The following three iconic hominins were found on October 21st!
The Mauer mandible – Oct 21st, 1907
It was found in the sediments by the Neckar river near Mauer, Germany, and dated to 500-600 Ka. The fossil was so different from other Homo specimens that a new species was defined for it: Homo heidelbergensis. This mandible remained the oldest hominin known in Europe for almost a century, until the 1990s.
It combines primitive features (large size, robust wide mandibular body, thick enamel, broad ramus) and modern features (molars are smaller than Homo erectus but some similar to modern humans). It is relatively short, the symphysis slopes down and back from the teeth and lacks a projecting chin.
Mauer mandible. Image credit: Schoetensack O. Der Unterkeifer des Homo heidelbergensis aus den Sanden von Mauer bei Heidelberg (1908)
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!
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. Photo: Roberto Sáez