Endocranial Capacity in an Early Hominid Cranium from Sterkfontein, South Africa

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Science  12 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5370, pp. 1730-1731
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5370.1730

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Two- and three-dimensional computer imaging shows that endocranial capacity in an ∼2.8- to 2.6-million-year-old early hominid cranium (Stw 505) from Sterkfontein, South Africa, tentatively assigned toAustralopithecus africanus, is ∼515 cubic centimeters. Although this is the largest endocranial capacity recorded for this species, it is still markedly less than anecdotal reports of endocranial capacity exceeding 600 cubic centimeters. No australopithecine has an endocranial capacity approaching, let alone exceeding, 600 cubic centimeters. Some currently accepted estimates of early hominid endocranial capacity may be inflated, suggesting that the tempo and mode of early hominid brain evolution may need reevaluation.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed at the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Box 8108, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. E-mail: conroyg{at}

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