Before Farming

The question of cranial robusticity

Before Farming (2006), 2006, (2), 1–13.

Abstract

The existence of a morphologically robust Pleistocene Australian population has been controversial. This is largely due to the pivotal role this group has played in the multiregional model of modern human origins. Some researchers have argued that the robust morphology results at least in part from pseudopathology (artificial deformation) or pathology (haemoglobinopathy) rather than representing normal anatomical form. The present contribution puts these alternative explanations to the test. From a package of cranial deformation diagnostics, only one feature (frontal curvature index) suggests possible pseudopathology in one individual (Kow Swamp 5). Thus, the evidence for deformation even in this individual is at best weak. Further, there seems to be no evidence for pathological hyperostosis among Pleistocene Australians including robust crania. On the contrary, the robust morphology continues to be part of the variability characterising living Aborigines. Recently published luminescence dates for Kow Swamp are evaluated. We find that they provide reasonable dates for sediments at the site but are unrelated to buried human remains excavated at Kow Swamp during the 1970s.

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Author details

Curnoe, Darren

Thorne, Alan