An analysis of the categorisation of the Skhul-Qafzeh hominin remains as modern

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Madalyn Grant


archaic human, skull, cranium, Homo


The Skhul and Qafzeh hominin fossil remains were found in Qafzeh and Es Skhul Caves in Israel in the late 1920s and early 1930s (Pettitt 2013). Initially classified as descendants of Homo heidelbergensis—i.e. anatomically modern humans—continued analysis of the remains, particularly of the crania, has caused many academics to question this classification (Eiseley 1946). This paper investigates to what extent the Skhul and Qafzeh crania are modern H. sapiens, with particular focus on the anatomically modern and archaic traits of the splanchnocranium, neurocranium, and mandible. The analysis of the remains relative to other hominin species highlights that although the remains possess many anatomically-modern features such as a high cranial vault and gracile browridge, the number of archaic traits still apparent illustrates that the Skhul-Qafzeh remains are unlikely to belong to anatomically modern humans. In this paper, through the analysis of cranial anatomy, I conclude that Skhul and Qafzeh fossilised remains may represent a transitional species between archaic and modern Homo sapiens.

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