The Top 10 hominin #FossilFriday tweets of 2017

This is the 4th one of a little tradition, my special Paleoanthropology annual report… The list of my favorite hominin #FossilFriday tweets in 2017, from number 10 to 1.

What’s a ‘FossilFriday’? Every Friday on Twitter, people share pics of their favorite fossils, related scientific papers or blog posts, by using the hashtag #FossilFriday. This is a great manner to show famous or rare pieces of museum collections, and to share research works. Every Friday I love to join & tweet about a different hominin fossil. Now, let’s go!

10. Very nice National Geographic hologram cover from November 1985, starring the Taung child:

Hominin #FossilFriday

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The supraorbital torus in hominins

The supraorbital torus (or brow ridge) is a very distinctive morphological trait in most of our hominin ancestors. What purpose does this feature serve? A few hypotheses around this topic are:

  • Dissipation of heavy chewing forces, produced by the jaw muscles and transmitted around the nose and the eye sockets.
  • Reinforcement of the frontal bone which was weaker in all the hominin species before Homo sapiens. This is a similar idea to explain the development of the chin in modern humans, as a reinforcement of a weaker jaw.
  • Protection of the skull and the eyes against blows.
  • A signaling effect, accentuating aggressive stares, thus its large size could have been sexually selected through generations.

However, many huge supraorbital tori are hollowed inside with large sinuses (for example: Petralona), suggesting that they did not bear or transmit physical forces from blows to the head or heavy chewing. I like the idea to think about a combination of several factors which made evolution work for a few million years. This post describes the supraorbital tori of 22 iconic hominins:

Australopitecines

Al 444-2: The largest Australopithecus afarensis skull yet discovered has an expansive supraorbital torus, thickened laterally and continuous superiorly-posteriorly with no interruption.

Sts 5 (Mrs. Ples) has a relatively small supraorbital torus, double arched in the front and projecting glabella. Another Au. africanus skull with many similarities is Sts 71, with a less broad torus in comparison to Sts 5, but with a similar expanded glabella.

Supraorbital torus Australopitecines

Supraorbital torus: Sts 5 (centre)-credit Wikipedia, AL 444-2 (left) and Sts 71 (right)-credit Roberto Sáez

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Aroeira 3: the westernmost Middle Pleistocene cranium of Europe

Why is it important?

  • Firmly dated to 390–436 ka, this new hominin fossil found in Portugal is the westernmost Middle Pleistocene cranium of Europe.
  • It is one of the earliest fossils associated with Acheulean tools in Western Europe.
  • Together with the tools, there is also a direct association with a large amount of faunal remains: mainly cervids and equids, also some rhinos and bears, a large bovid, a caprid and a tortoise.
  • The presence of burnt bones suggests a controlled use of fire.
Aroeira 3 cranium

Aroeira 3 cranium. Credit: Daura et al, New Middle Pleistocene hominin cranium from Gruta da Aroeira (Portugal)

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The Top 10 hominin #FossilFriday tweets of 2016

Finally! The 3rd edition of my little tradition, a particular ‘annual report’: the list of my favorite hominin #FossilFriday tweets in 2016, from number 10 to 1.

For those who do not know what “FossilFriday” means… Every Friday on twitter, people share pics of their favorite fossils, related scientific papers or blog posts, by using the hashtag #FossilFriday. This is a great manner to show famous or rare pieces of museum collections, and to share research works. I join every Friday and tweet about a different hominin fossil. Now, let’s start!

10. Look into the 1.8 Ma eyes of the impressive OH 24  |  MNCN Colecciones 

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The Top 10 hominin #FossilFriday tweets of 2015

Here’s my little annual tradition!! This is the second year I do this sort of special ‘summary annual report’: the list of my favorite #FossilFriday tweets in 2015, from number 10 to 1.

For those who don’t know what “FossilFriday” means… Every Friday on twitter, scientists and interested amateurs share pics of their favorite fossils, related scientific papers or blog posts, by using the hashtag #FossilFriday. This is a great manner to show famous or rare pieces of museum collections, and to share research works. I usually join this and tweet about a different hominid fossil every Friday. Now, let’s start!   Sigue leyendo

The key Olduvai Hominids

The following is the list of key hominids found in the Olduvai Gorge archeological sites. They are coded as OH nn (Olduvai Hominid number of fossil). The list is sorted by species and code. You can click on any pic to enlarge.

They are real treasures to understand the human origins in the last 2 million years. Don’t miss the bonus surprise at the end – Enjoy!

Homo habilis

OH 7 (1.7 Ma. Site FLK NN). It consists of 24 bones (parietal bones as most significant), teeth and mandible of a 10-12 year-old male. Discovered by the oldest son of Louis and Mary Leakey on his 20th birthday, it was thus nicknamed “Johnny’s Child”. It is the type specimen of the Homo habilis species.

OH 7 Homo habilis

OH 7 Homo habilis. Photo: Roberto Sáez

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