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Technical note: virtual reconstruction of KNM-ER 1813 Homo habilis cranium

Stefano Benazzi, Giorgio Gruppioni, David S Strait, Jean-Jacques Hublin
American Journal of Physical Anthropology 2014, 153 (1): 154-60
24318950
A very limiting factor for paleoanthropological studies is the poor state of preservation of the human fossil record, where fragmentation and deformation are considered normal. Although anatomical information can still be gathered from a distorted fossil, such specimens must typically be excluded from advanced morphological and morphometric analyses, thus reducing the fossil sample size and, ultimately, our knowledge of human evolution. In this contribution we provide the first digital reconstruction of the KNM-ER 1813 Homo habilis cranium. Based on state of-the-art three-dimensional digital modeling and geometric morphometric (GM) methods, the facial portion was aligned to the neurocranium, the overall distortion was removed, and the missing regions were restored. The reconstructed KNM-ER 1813 allows for an adjustment of the anthropometric measurements gathered on the original fossil. It is suitable for further quantitative studies, such as GM analyses focused on skull morphology or for finite element analysis to explore the mechanics of early Homo feeding behavior and diet.

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