hominin

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Tag archives for hominin

The skeletons of Lucy (left) and Kadanuumuu (right). Both belong to the early human species Australopithecus afarensis. (Images not to scale.) I never fully appreciated how small Lucy was until I saw her bones for myself. Photographs and restorations of her and her kin within the species Australopithecus afarensis had never really given me a…

Three-dimensional models of hominoid skulls used in the study – (a) Hylobates lar; (b) Pongo pygmaeus; (c) Pan troglodytes; (d) Gorilla gorilla; (e) Australopithecus africanus; (f ) Paranthropus boisei; (g) Homo sapiens. They have been scaled to the same surface area, and the colors denote areas of stress (blue = minimal stress, pink = high…

The skull of a spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), photographed at the AMNH’s “Extreme Mammals” exhibit. There was something strange about the assemblage of Homo erectus fossils found at Zhoukoudian – the famous 750,000 – 200,000 year old site in China popularly known as Dragon Bone Hill. Despite the abundance of skulls and teeth, there were…

The skull of Paranthropus boisei (“Zinj,” “Dear Boy,” “Nutcracker Man,” etc.). Louis Leakey had a problem. During the summer of 1959 he and his wife Mary recovered the skull fragments of an early human scattered about the fossil deposits of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The skull had been deposited among the shattered bones of fossil…

A diagram of how the skeletons of Australopithecus sediba came to be preserved in the Malapa cave deposit. From Dirks et al, 2010. A little less than two million years ago, in what is now South Africa, a torrential downpour washed the bodies of two humans into the deep recesses of a cave. Just how…

New discovery fuels hominin hype

According to multiple reports released yesterday, scientists will announce the discovery of a new species of two-million-year-old hominin this week. Do you know what that means? That’s right; writers are breaking out the pop-sci boilerplate to tell us all about the new “missing link.” To paraphrase what I have seen in the headlines alone, the…

A Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer), photographed at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. No one knew what happened to William Olson. At about three in the afternoon on April 13, 1966 he had been swimming with his friends from the Peace Corps in the part of the Baro river that ran through Gambela, Ethiopia when…

Gone crazy, be back soon

I apologize, dear readers, that today I probably won’t be able to keep up with my more usual prolific rate of posting. The reasons for this today are as follows; I have two major exams today, one in my “Soils & Water” “Soils and Society” class and my Computers midterm (which for some reason was…

Laetoli at ~3.5 mya

In 1978, a paleoanthropological team including Mary Leakey, Richard Hay, and Tim White made a startling discovery at Laetoli, Tanzania; in a bed of volcanic ash that would later be dated to about 3.5 million years old were the footprints of ancient hominids. The preserved trackway, found to contain the footprints of three individuals of…