The upcoming issue of Science will be publishing the announcement of a newly discovered 1.2 million-year-old female Homo erectus pelvis. The fossil was found in 2001 at the Gona Study Area in the Afar region Ethiopia. Excavations were completed in 2003.
Sileshi Semaw, the leader of the Gona Project, said that the birth canal of this pelvis is 30% larger than earlier estimates based on the 1.5-million-year-old juvenile male pelvis of KNM-WT 15000 (Turkana Boy) found in Kenya. I don’t have an early copy of the paper, but if this is true, this find will make us reevaluate our estimations of Homo erectus growth and development. Current theories, based upon estimations of the existing male skeleton from Kenya, suggested Homo erectus produced babies with only a limited neonatal brain size, and experienced rapid brain growth while still developmentally immature. But as you may know, male and female primate pelvic girdles are extremely different. This new pelvis also tells us of some interesting differences in stature and gait.
Early hominid female pelvic anatomy is basically unknown, in fact we don’t really have much data, really only Lucy’s fragmented pelvis, the 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis. So I’m interested in reading more about this fossil and what it has to tell us of Homo erectus anatomy and early human evolution. I guess I gotta wait until the paper appears in Science. Expect a post about it as soon as I get my hands on the paper.