Sphenoid shortening and the evolution of modern human cranial shape

  title={Sphenoid shortening and the evolution of modern human cranial shape},
  author={Daniel E. Lieberman},
  • D. Lieberman
  • Published 14 May 1998
  • Environmental Science
  • Nature
Crania of ‘anatomically modern’ Homo sapiens from the Holocene and Upper Pleistocene epochs differ from those of other Homo taxa, including Neanderthals, by only a few features. These include a globular braincase, a vertical forehead, a dimunitive browridge, a canine fossa and a pronounced chin. Humans are also unique among mammals in lacking facial projection: the face of the adult H. sapiens lies almost entirely beneath the anterior cranial fossa, whereas the face in all other adult mammals… 

Middle cranial fossa anatomy and the origin of modern humans.

Three-dimensional morphometrics and computer reconstructions of computed tomography-scanned fossil hominids, fossil and recent modern humans and chimpanzees point to variations in the temporal lobe, which, through effects on the MCF and face, are central to the evolution of modern human facial form.

Anterior sphenoid in modern humans

It turns out that the anterior sphenoid in modern humans is no shorter than in archaic Homo, and ASL was incorrectly estimated in those archaic fossil crania in which these landmarks are unambiguously preserved.

OH 83: A new early modern human fossil cranium from the Ndutu beds of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

The discovery of a newly recovered partial calvaria from the upper Ndutu Beds of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania is presented and a comparative analysis of its morphology is presented, placing OH 83 within the context of current understanding of the origins and evolution of Homo sapiens.

Morphological relationship between the cranial and supraorbital regions in Homo sapiens.

In the sample of all crania, the neurocranial size more strongly influenced the morphological variation of the ST than of the GL, and sex influenced both of these structures the most, suggesting that sex may be the main factor (having an influence independent of the other traits) on the morphologists of theGL and ST.

Modern Variation and Evolutionary Change in the Hominin Eye Orbit

Results indicate that future research into the etiology of juvenile-onset myopia should consider how the eyeball interacts with the matrix of structural and functional components of the skull during ontogenetic and evolutionary morphogenesis.

Testing hypotheses about tinkering in the fossil record: the case of the human skull.

The results indicate that facial retraction in modern humans is largely a product of three derived changes: a relatively longer anterior cranial base, a more flexed Cranial base angle, and a relatively shorter upper face.

Speculations about the selective basis for modern human craniofacial form

The evidence generally supports some version of the out‐of‐Africa model, according to which humans first evolved in Africa at least 200,000 years ago and then migrated to other parts of the world.

Human origins: Out of Africa

  • I. Tattersall
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2009
Modern humans appear to have definitively exited Africa to populate the rest of the globe only after both their physical and cognitive peculiarities had been acquired within that continent.



On aspects of skull form in African apes and orangutans, with implications for hominoid evolution.

  • B. Shea
  • Environmental Science
    American journal of physical anthropology
  • 1985
Results from this study and previous ones suggest that Pongo is characterized by a marked dorsal deflection of the face relative to the basicranium, and it seems likely that an important derived feature linking African apes and hominids is a ventral rotation of the splanchnocranium on the neurocranium.

Metrical reconsideration of the Skhul IV and IX and Border Cave 1 crania in the context of modern human origins.

  • R. Corruccini
  • Environmental Science
    American journal of physical anthropology
  • 1992
Reference to Qafzeh, Skhul, and Border Cave as "fully anatomically modern" require reconsideration, as proper distance analysis of Border Cave 1 cranium shows it is actually far removed from modern African populations.

Ontogeny of the early hominid face

Body mass and encephalization in Pleistocene Homo

It is shown that two independent methods of body-mass estimation yield concordant results when applied to Pleistocene Homo specimens, and on the basis of an analysis of 163 individuals, body mass in Pleistsocene Homo averaged significantly (about 10%) larger than a representative sample of living humans.

A reappraisal of the anatomical basis for speech in Middle Palaeolithic hominids.

This work critiques the use of the basicranium and instead presents the anatomical relations of the hyoid and adjacent structures in living humans as a basis for understanding the form of the vocal tract.

Significance of some previously unrecognized apomorphies in the nasal region of Homo neanderthalensis.

  • J. SchwartzI. Tattersall
  • Geography, Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1996
The purpose of this contribution is to describe specializations of the Neanderthal internal nasal region that make them unique not only among hominids but possibly among terrestrial mammals in general as well.

An Introduction to Human Evolutionary Anatomy

An Introduction to the Fossil Record, Classification and Phylogenetic Reconstruction. Anatomical Nomenclature. The Microanatomy of Muscle and Bone. The Bones of the Skull. The Comparative Anatomy of

Interspecific perspective on mechanical and nonmechanical models of primate circumorbital morphology.

  • M. Ravosa
  • Biology
    American journal of physical anthropology
  • 1991
It is suggested that since circumorbital structures (especially the browridges) are located the farthest away from the chewing apparatus, they are least affected by masticatory stresses.