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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Dec;134(4):529-34.

Brief communication: new reconstruction of the Taung endocast.

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Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-7772, USA.


Earlier reconstructions of the Taung endocast, from the juvenile type specimen for Australopithecus africanus, were achieved without benefit of the advanced computer technology that is available today and before morphological differences were identified that distinguish endocasts of Paranthropus from those of A. africanus. Here, we reconstruct and measure a relatively complete virtual endocast of Taung and provide a new cranial capacity estimate of 382 cm(3) and a projected adult capacity of 406 cm(3), which are smaller than previous estimates. Linear measurements and ratios were also obtained from an endocast of Sts 5 and five Paranthropus endocasts and compared with those of Taung. A number of previously unrecognized foramina, processes, and canals are identified in the bony material that adheres to the base of the Taung endocast. The newly reconstructed virtual endocast of Taung displays a number of shape features that sort it more closely with gracile than robust australopithecines, including squared-off frontal lobes in dorsal view, and the shape of the tips of its temporal poles. The Taung endocast also shares some features with Paranthropus endocasts, while other characteristics such as small temporal lobes may be due to its juvenile status. Just how much of Taung's unique morphology is due to its juvenile status may eventually be clarified by comparing its endocast with those from other juvenile australopithecines such as the 3.3-million-year-old juvenile from Dikika, Ethiopia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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