- Comparative Anatomy
The Black Skull
29 Aug 1985
Alan C. Walker
Lake Turkana, Kenya
The KNM WT 17000 cranium is missing some bone fragments from the face, particularly from the maxillary sinus; the posterior portion of the frontal; the frontal processes of the zygomatics; the anterior portion of the parietal bones; most of the zygomatic arches; a portion of the pterygoid regions; right side of palate; posterior portion of the maxilla; the occipital bone on the inferior part of the nuchal area2,4. All of the tooth crowns are absent with the exception for half of a molar and the right P32,4.
KNM WT 17000 had a relatively small cranial capacity, only reaching about 410 cc1. Besides having a small neurocranium, the face, palate, and cranial base are all very massively built4. The large sagittal crest preserved on KNM WT 17000 suggests powerful biting forces.
The Black Skull has many primitive features in common with Australopithecus afarensis, such as a flat cranial base, mid facial and subnasal prognathism, a relatively flat glenoid fossa, a small cranial capacity and pneumatization of the base of the crania1. Features that distinguish the Black Skull from A. afarensis include a dish-shaped midface, forward facing zygomatics, a heart-shaped foramen magnum, and massive molars and molarization of the premolars relative to the incisors and canines1.
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