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J Hum Evol. 2002 Mar;42(3):293-302.

Additional human remains from Blombos Cave, South Africa: (1999-2000 excavations).

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York, 11794, USA.


The uppermost Middle Stone Age (MSA) layers at Blombos Cave contain high densities of Still Bay bifacial points. Information from other regional sites places the Still Bay prior to the Howiesons Poort industry, which has been dated at 65-70 ka. The Blombos Cave MSA strata have yielded nine human teeth or dental fragments. Four that were recovered during the 1997-1998 excavations have been published elsewhere. The remaining five were discovered during the 1999-2000 field seasons; these are described here. Three of the new specimens are deciduous teeth, and two are permanent premolar and molar crown fragments. The entire dental sample probably represents at least five and as many as seven individuals. The deciduous teeth from the upper MSA levels are likely to have been exfoliated in the cave. One deciduous tooth and the permanent tooth fragments from the lower MSA levels probably represent three individuals who died in or near the cave. The Blombos Cave premolars preserve horizontal circum-cervical striae suggestive of palliative tooth pick use. Approximately half of the permanent and deciduous crown diameters exceed those of recent Africans; for the remainder, the fossil values fall among modern African sample means. The Blombos Cave tooth crowns tend to be smaller than the majority of penecontemporaneous Neandertal teeth. The morphology of the Blombos Cave di is comparable to MSA homologues from the nearby, and presumably somewhat younger site of Die Kelders Cave 1.

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