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Homo. 2010 Oct;61(5):287-313. doi: 10.1016/j.jchb.2010.07.002.

Cranial vault shape in fossil hominids: Fourier descriptors in norma lateralis.

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1
Section of Orthodontics, UCLA School of Dentistry, Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA. plestrel@earthlink.net

Abstract

Two major views of human evolution have elicited considerable controversy. These are: [1] the "out of Africa" hypothesis and [2] the "multiregional" hypothesis. This paper is an attempt to try to reconcile these two scenarios using hominid cranial vault data. Elliptical Fourier functions (EFFs) were used to describe, in visual and numerical terms, the shape of the human cranial vault in norma lateralis. Using jpeg images, contours of the cranial vault of a large sample of hominid specimens were pre-processed in Photoshop CS and rotated in 2D space (positional-orientation) so that a line drawn from nasion to porion was horizontal. The cranial vault image was then digitized with 72 closely-spaced points and submitted to a specially written routine that computed EFFs normalized by scaling (size-standardization). This ensured that the representation was invariant with respect to starting point, size and orientation. Statistically significant differences were found between the H. sapiens sample and both the H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis samples. In contrast, there were no statistically significant differences between the H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis groups, leading to three conclusions: [1] the similarity in cranial vault shape between H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis suggests a single gradually evolving lineage; [2] The taxon H. heidelbergensis can be embedded into the H. erectus→H. neanderthalensis line; and [3] H. sapiens seems to be a separate evolutionary development and is considered here either as a separate species or as a possible example of an allopatric semispecies (Grant, 1977). The results here suggest that human evolution over the last 2 Ma may turn out to be neither totally multiregional or simply out of Africa but rather represents a considerably more complicated picture.

PMID:
20801442
DOI:
10.1016/j.jchb.2010.07.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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