New reconstruction and morphological description of a Homo erectus cranium: skull IX (Tjg-1993.05) from Sangiran, Central Java

Yousuke Kaifu, Yahdi Zaim, Hisao Baba, Iwan Kurniawan, Daisuke Kubo, Yan Rizal, Johan Arif, Fachroel Aziz
Journal of Human Evolution 2011, 61 (3): 270-94
Skull IX (Tjg-1993.05) was unearthed from the upper stratigraphic zone (Bapang-AG levels) of the hominin-bearing sequence in Sangiran. This remarkably complete cranial specimen of Homo erectus from the early Pleistocene of Java preserves substantial portions of the vault and face. However, the distortion present in the original reconstruction has hampered detailed documentation of its morphological characteristics. We here report a new reconstruction of Skull IX that successfully recovers the original morphology and significantly differs from previous reconstructions. Detailed morphological description and the results of initial comparative analyses based on this new reconstruction are provided. The endocranial volume of Skull IX was measured as 870 cc using micro-CT data. The neurocranium of Skull IX is slightly smaller than the so far recorded smallest cranium from this zone, suggesting this individual was female. In most, but not all, aspects of the cranial vault form, details of the external surface structures, and facial morphology, Skull IX exhibits numerous similarities to the other Bapang-AG H. erectus specimens, indicating that it belonged to the Bapang-AG H. erectus population. Drawing on the expanded fossil sample of this chronoregional H. erectus group, we discuss their evolutionary status, degree of sexual dimorphism, and facial morphological variation in Afro-Asian earlier Homo specimens.

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