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J Hum Evol. 1998 May;34(5):509-47.

The Middle Pleistocene human tibia from Boxgrove.

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  • 1Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London, U.K.


The Boxgrove tibia was discovered in 1993, associated with Middle Pleistocene fauna, and Lower Palaeolithic archaeology. The sediments at Boxgrove were deposited during a temperate interglacial episode and ensuing cold stage. They thus represent a wide range of modes and environments of deposition. Archaeological remains have been excavated from all the major stratigraphic units, giving a continuity of occupation for this part of southern England over a 10(4) year timescale, through markedly changing climatic regimes. The stratigraphic, archaeological and sedimentological contexts of the tibia are described, as well as its preservation and morphology. Measurements are given, with discussion of reconstructed bone length, and stature estimates. Comparative measurements are provided for fossil and recent human samples: the large dimensions of its diaphysis place the Boxgrove tibia near or beyond the upper size limits of the comparative samples, but its reconstructed length and estimated stature are less exceptional. The elevated robusticity of the specimen indicates exceptional diaphyseal strength and/or cold adapted body proportions paralleling those of the Neanderthals. Disagreement about the taxonomy of Middle Pleistocene hominids and lack of comparable fossil material make a specific assignment for the Boxgrove tibia problematic. The tibia can only definitely be assigned to non-modern Homo sp., with possible further reference to Homo cf. heidelbergensis (Schoetensack, 1908) on temporal and geographic grounds, if the validity of that species is accepted.

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