Anthropology lab

Introduction: The purpose of this lab is to introduce you to the cranial and dental morphology

of early hominins. By examining the suites of primitive and derived traits present in different

hominins and comparing those traits with modern Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes, you will

gather the evidence necessary to address questions of relationships and behavior.

To complete this lab, you will be examining virtual specimens available through the NMNH, Smithsonian 3D Digitization website: https://3d.si.edu/explore/museum/natural-history-museum. This site allows you to view casts of fossil specimens in 3D and to rotate the specimens to view them from different angles. There are also a series of tools that will allow you to measure, zoom in and out, and change lighting, material, and view. Feel free to play with the settings/tools. In some cases, minor adjustments to the lighting and/or materials can make it easier to see details on the specimens. While there are links accompanying the specimens that you should view in completing this lab (see below), there are many additional specimens available with this digital collection. Feel free to explore.

Part 1 – Data Collection: On each of the following pages is a data collection table for seven fossil hominin species the modern human, and the chimpanzee. For each species, collect the following data. Enter your data directly into the tables. Links to specimens are provided with each species.

1) Foramen magnum location – moved forward or toward the rear; pointing straight down or

angling to the rear?

2) Crests – Is there a sagittal crest (running front to back along the top of the skull)?

Is there a nuchal crest (running horizontally along the back of the skull)?

3) Prognathism – Is the face more prognathic (projecting) or orthognathic (flat)? Is there alveolar

prognathism (projecting at the teeth)?

4) Robusticity – Is the skull heavily built or lightly built? Is the face dish-shaped? Is the jaw

rugged and deep or smooth and shallow? Are there heavy muscle markings?

5) Supraorbital torus (brow ridges) – present or absent; size

6) Brain size (relative to face) – Is it larger? Smaller? The same?

7) Teeth – What are the relative sizes of the teeth (incisors, canine, premolars, molars)? Is the

last molar (M3) reduced? Do the premolars look like molars, or are they small with few

bumps? Does the canine extend beyond the tooth row?

NOTE: Damage to specimens sometimes prevents complete data collection. However, you might be able to infer characteristics from the surrounding bone. For example, if a specimen is missing a tooth (or teeth) you might be able to estimate the size of teeth from the roots, the size of the jaw, or the tooth sockets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australopithecus afarensis: 4.0 – 2.9 million years old

Specimen # A.L. 444-2

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/australopithecus-afarensis-cranium:6faf8121-250c-47cb-a5cc-139d7b16c570

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Homo habilis: 2.4 – 1.7 million years old

Specimens # OH 24 & KNM-ER 1813

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-habilis-cranium:4c474d9f-72b2-49ab-bdd2-9f4b9d250cd2

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-habilis-cranium:de47a0c6-20c6-4d70-bcc8-4992d5f4ff66

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Paranthropus robustus: 1.8 – 1.0 million years old

Specimens # SK-46 (male) and DNH 7 (female)

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/paranthropus-robustus-cranium:70125300-c184-494d-9a05-3b4b8ba3977f

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/paranthropus-robustus-cranium:8bc77140-b75c-4f96-9899-bf275b5d43dd

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Paranthropus boisei: 2.3 – 1.2 million years old

Specimens # KNM-ER 406 (male); OH 5 (male); KNM-ER 732 (female)

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/paranthropus-boisei-cranium:081d5e0b-7181-4ccb-bfbd-9f906930c620

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/paranthropus-boisei-cranium:f71256ba-fb5d-4a26-b44d-3d4cc2a8b533

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/paranthropus-boisei-cranium:1257a10e-a0a5-448c-9d1e-db0c4d775ec0

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Australopithecus africanus: 3.0 – 2.0 million years old

Specimens # STS 5 and STS 71

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/australopithecus-africanus-cranium:ea4abc35-be8e-4787-aec4-ab7e34298f9b

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/australopithecus-africanus-cranium:987cb78e-29f6-41da-be16-71a3ff2b8324

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Homo rudolfensis: 2.4 – 1.8 million years old

Specimen # KNM ER 1470

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-rudolfensis-cranium:6d2ecbf8-0d42-4277-a475-4a3d9208ecd3

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Sahelanthropus tchadensis: 7.0 – 6.0 million years old

Specimen # TM 266-01-060-1

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/sahelanthropus-tchadensis-cranium:9730a62f-a649-44fb-8494-aa7c9b6eb1f8

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Homo sapiens: 200,000 years ago to present

Specimens: Qafzeh 6; Cro-Magnon 1; and Skhūl V

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-sapiens-cranium:52610788-8e81-4b0b-8d3a-8d19828236ec

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-sapiens-cranium:09d681b2-5ae9-44a8-b444-8e31bb40305e

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/homo-sapiens-cranium:7821efd3-6af6-4306-8063-228489aa497d

 

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Pan troglodytes: 200,000? years ago to present

https://3d.si.edu/object/3d/pan-troglodytes-troglodytes-cranium:3dc12b5f-e7df-48cc-84a7-be5e6ec7fa90

Foramen Magnum Location
Crests
Prognathism
Robusticity
Supraorbital Torus
Brain Size (relative to face)
Teeth

Part 2 – Data Analysis: Refer to the table that you completed in Part 1 to complete this

section.

1) What differences do you see between the genus Paranthropus and the other genera (fossil and

modern)? What do you think the dietary differences might be?

2) Looking at the size of the brain case (neurocranium) relative to the face (splanchnocranium), rank the species from smallest to largest relative brain size (ties are permitted).

3) Using the data from the table (Part 1) construct a hypothesis of relationships between all of the

species (including Pan troglodytes and Homo sapiens). Draw your hypothesis in the form of a cladogram and give an explanation for why you position each species as you do. Insert a picture of your hypothesis below (or attach an image as a separate file).

Note: To receive full credit, the position of each species must be justified on the basis of the data that you collected (i.e. on the basis of morphology [shape]), and you must be specific!

To consider in making your tree:

  • There are no right or wrong answers to this. Use the data to come up with a hypothesis of relationships. You will be assessed on your ability to interpret your data and to use it to support your hypothesis – Don’t worry about having the “correct” evolutionary tree!
  • Anything that you consider to be a hominin should share a more recent common ancestor with Homo sapiens than with Pan troglodytes.
  • Time is not usually a good organizing factor. It is not uncommon for highly derived organisms to occur early in the evolutionary history of a group. You will lose points if you use time as the sole justification for your hypothesis of relationships.
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