Chapter 17 - Fossil Skulls
In my hands, an ancient bone,
    hard and bare and long alone,
‘Neath the ground, so very old,
    With a story to be told

    A fossil skull tells us what its long-ago possessor looked like, how intelligent he was, what he used his brain for, and even what he ate. It may also tell us who were his likely ancestors as well as his possible descendants, which is the evidence we are looking for in this book.
    The afrocentrists argue that Africa has the oldest archaic (Hs) and modern (Hss) skulls and therefore modern man arose in Africa. But, as the character “Sporting Life” sang in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, “It ain’t necessarily so.” Afrocentrists claim that several African fossil skulls are “modern” even though they are in some ways more primitive than some of the skulls of early man, shown in Chapter 2, and are more primitive than some European and East Asian skulls of about the same age. This is not surprising as living Africans are also more primitive than Eurasians, as described in Chapter 16.
    Human fossils are rare because the conditions needed to preserve them are rare. 1 Early humans did not bury their dead, so animals, decomposition, and the weather soon erased all traces of them. To be preserved, a body must be buried soon (hours, days, or months, depending on circumstances) after death in a way that excludes oxygen. This can happen if a catastrophic event, such as a volcanic eruption, a landslide, or a flash flood caused the death, or the person dies in a river that is depositing silt. So, if non-Africans were the first moderns, but did not die in areas where preservation was likely, an early African skull may not be from the first modern humans. Also, northern Africa is, and was, quite accessible to Eurasians and, as we shall see in Section IV, it is likely that modern humans arose outside of Africa, then migrated in to Africa, where they and their descendants died.
    Even if the African skulls are modern and some of the humans from those populations did migrate out of Africa, that does not mean that all of today’s modern humans came from those African modern humans; modern humans could also have arisen both inside and outside of Africa, as the Multiregional theory holds – independent evolution is very common. Flight, for example, independently evolved in insects, birds, and mammals and sight independently evolved in insects, mollusks, and vertebrates. If becoming “modern” required a series of changes in many different genes, man becoming modern is unlikely to have occurred independently on two different continents. But if it required only a single change in a single gene, such as a Hox gene that turns a host of other genes on or off, then independent evolution may not be unlikely at all.
    Let us look at the most prominent skulls offered by the afrocentrists to prove that Hss arose in Africa.

Figure 17-1

    As evidence for their contention that the oldest modern human skulls are found in Africa, the afrocentrists offer the Herto skulls, of two adults and one child. (Clark, 2003) However, these skulls are now assigned to the sub-species Homo sapiens idaltu, which indicates that they are Hs, not Hss, and therefore not “modern.” The skulls were found near the village of Herto, in the Afar region of eastern Ethiopia in northeast Africa. Radiometric dating places the remains at between 160,000 and 154,000 ya. Figure 17-1 is a side view of one of the adult skulls.
Figure 17-2
    This skull is of an almost complete adult cranium. It has a number of primitive features, such as large eye sockets, prominent brow ridges, sloping forehead, large teeth, and a severe post-orbital constriction, which is a very primitive characteristic. The reader may compare the post-orbital constriction in the superior view of the skull (Fig. 17-2) with the skulls in Figures 9-7 and 9-14 to 9-16.
    The adult Herto skull is also wider at the cheek bones, another erectus trait, and is much thicker and more robust than a modern, fully Hss skull. It lacks a saggital keel, but it does have an occipital bun, as in the Neanderthals. Although the jaw protrudes, it is not as much as it does in some living Africans. A further puzzlement is its cranial capacity of about 1450 cc, the average for Neanderthals, but larger than most living Caucasians (1441 cc) and significantly larger than most living Africans (1338 cc), though it is smaller than the average for Asians

Figure 17-3
(1491 cc,). If present day Africans evolved from a Herto population, the afrocentrists cannot explain how their brains shrank. Since Africans today have a significantly smaller cranial capacity than Herto, if Herto did evolve in Africa and today’s Africans evolved from Herto, then large skulls, and therefore large brains and greater intelligence, must be a disadvantage in Africa, a conclusion that afrocentrists would find embarrassing. The patterns on the inside of the skull do not specifically match those of any contemporary group of modern humans, which suggests that Africans did not de-evolve from Herto and that the Herto population was a dead end.
    Moreover, Herto does not have features that are clearly African, but does have some non-African features, particularly the large cranial capacity. So what is this un-African skull doing in Africa? One clue may be the location where the Herto skulls were found. The village of Herto is in the famous Rift Valley, where Richard Leakey and other paleoanthropologists have found many human fossils. The village is only about 200 miles from the narrow strait that separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. The country of Yemen in the Middle East is on the other side of the strait. (Fig. 17-3).
    Herto lived during an ice age (Fig. 5-1) when sea water was locked up in ice; sea levels were well over a hundred feet lower than today. 2 Thus, the passage of people across the strait from the Middle East into Africa could be expected. 3 Eurasian Hs, escaping the cold, could easily have crossed from the Middle East into Africa. Interbreeding with African erectus would produce hybrids like Herto, who have a sapiens cranial capacity in a skull with some erectine features. This is likely the reason that afrocentrists have classified Herto as Homo sapiens idaltu instead of as Hss, despite their claims that Herto is modern. Thus, it cannot be concluded that Herto evolved in Africa.

Omo 1 Omo 2
Figure 17-4
    The Omo skulls are also cited by afrocentrists as support for OoA. (McDougall, 2005). Like Herto, which was found near the Awash River in Ethiopia, Omo was also found near a river in Ethiopia, the Omo River near the village of Kibish (in Fig. 17-3, it’s in SW Ethiopia near the top of the long blue lake). Omo is a bit older than Herto, dating to 195,000 ya. There are two partial adult craniums, Omo 1 and Omo 2 (Fig. 17-4), with Omo 2 being described as more primitive.
    Omo 1 is only a skull cap, so not much information can be obtained from it, but its upturned front and back ends indicate that it is very primitive. Omo 2 has a cranial capacity of over 1400 cc and seems to be another Herto-type hybrid of Eurasian sapiens with an African erectus. Omo, like Herto can, at best, be Hs, but certainly not Hss, nor do the afrocentrists claim that these skulls are Hss; nevertheless, they claim these skulls are “modern.”

Figure 17-5a Figure 17-5b

    Figures 17-5a and 17-5b show an African erectus skull, Kabwe, aka “Rhodesian Man” or “Broken Hill”). This male (Kennedy, 1984) skull is from the Broken Hill 1 site, near Kabwe, Zambia, in Africa. It is classified as a Heidi (Fig. 2-5) and is dated at 125,000 to 300,000 BP. It is very primitive but the capacity of the skull is between 1280 and 1300 cc, only slightly less than living Africans (1338 cc). Note the prominent ridges above the eyes, the extreme slope of the forehead, the saggital keel, and the protruding upper jaw (“maxilla”).
    Now, one might wonder, why does this 125,000 to 300,000 year old African skull look so much more primitive than the 160,000 to 154,000 year old Herto skull and the 195,000 year old Omo skull when it might actually be younger? Surely, the primitive Kabwe skull should have a much older date? Yes, it should, especially since it was found on the same continent. The answer to that question may come from looking at a map of Africa (Fig. 17-6).


Figure 17-6

    Ethiopia, where Herto and Omo were found, is almost touching Yemen in the Middle East, but Zambia, where Kabwe was found, is deep in the interior of southern Africa. Zambia would have been a more difficult place for people from the Middle East to reach 125,000 to 300,000 ya. Any inconsistency between the age and primitiveness of the Kabwe and the Herto and Omo skulls is easily resolved by the hypothesis that Herto and Omo were the descendants of Hs or Hss Eurasians who had migrated into Africa and had interbred with indigenous African erectus, such as Kabwe. If that simple hypothesis is correct, then modern man did not evolve in Africa. 4

                            Eurasian Fossils
    Now let’s look at some Chinese skulls, starting with a gruesome, but happy, Chinese erectus, reconstructed by Franz Weidenreich. (Figures 17-7).

Figure 17-7a Figure 17-7b
    This skull is known as Peking Man (aka “Beijing Man”), pieced together from the fossil remains of several different individuals found at the Dragon Bone Hill site, Zhoukoutien, near Beijing, China. Note the prominent brow ridges, the sagittal keel, occipital bun, and protruding jaw with no chin. Although it has primitive features, its cranial capacity is about 1075 cc and, aside from being larger, its teeth and arm bones are indistinguishable from those of modern man. It is estimated to be between 300,000 and 500,000 yrs old, older than Kabwe. Unfortunately, the original of the skull was lost in WWII, so it cannot be accurately dated. Animal remains and evidence of fire and the manufacturing and use of tools were found nearby. The flaking of his stone tools shows that Peking Man had already developed handedness, and was right-handed. (Howells, 1948, p. 49).

Figure 17-8 Figure 17-9

    Figure 17-8 is a particularly interesting skull from China, known as “Dali.” It has a mixture of erectine traits (saggital keel, heavy brow ridges) and sapiens traits (delicate cheek bones, flat face). The endocranial volume is about 1120 cc (Encyclopedia Britannica) and, although uranium series dating of ox teeth from the site gave a date of 209,000 ±23,000 yrs, other testing gives a date of about 270,000 yrs. (Xiao, 2002).
    Next compare 125,000 to 300,000 year old Kabwe (Fig. 17-5) to the 260,000 year old skull in Figure 17-9 from Jinniushan, China. (Rosenberg, 2006). Although Jinniushan and Kabwe both date from about the same time, Jinniushan is classified as an Hs, while Kabwe is classified as an erectus. Also, the cranial capacity of Kabwe is 1280 to 1300 cc, but the cranial capacity of Jinniushan is about 1330 cc (Rosenberg, 2006), comparable to the average of today’s Africans (1338 cc), and Jinniushan is the skull of a woman. Although women have smaller skulls than men, this woman is estimated to have been 5’ 5 ½” tall and weighed 173 pounds. (Bower, 2006). If the Chinese archaics were so much farther evolved than the African archaics, just as today’s Chinese are far more advanced than today’s Africans, isn’t it more reasonable to conclude that modern man evolved in Asia rather than Africa?
Figure 17-10
    Figure 17-10 shows a skull found in Liujiang County, China. It is unequivocally modern (Shen, 2002) and should be classified as Hss. The top of the skull is smooth and evenly domed and shows not even a hint of a thickening or a saggital keel. There are no brow ridges and the face is refined with small teeth. The Liujiang skull was initially dated at 87,000 BP 5 but it was found in sediment dated at 110,000 to 138,000 yrs old 6 and some experts believe it is over 150,000 yrs old. 7 Its skull capacity is a remarkable 1480 cc (Wu, 1995), higher than today’s Caucasians (1441 cc), much higher than today’s Africans (1338 cc), and only slightly less than today’s Asians (1491 cc). The Liujiang skull proves that modern man was in China long before 65,000 ya, when the afrocentrists say he left Africa.
    Another difference between the Kabwe skull and the four Chinese skulls (Peking Man, Dali, Jinniushan, and Liujiang), that is not as easily seen, is that the Chinese skulls have “shoveled” incisors. Shoveled incisors (Fig. 9-28) are seen only rarely in living Caucasians and almost never in living Africans (except for Bushmen), but they are common in living Asians and Native Americans that came from Asia. 8 But where did the Asians get them from?
    All of the Chinese fossils (that have incisors) have shoveled incisors, dating back to the earliest Asian Homo erectus (Java Man) about 1.8 mya. 9 Hmmm. Now if the Chinese H. erectus had shoveled incisors, Peking Man, Dali, Jinniushan, and Liujiang had shoveled incisors, and many of the Chinese alive today have shoveled incisors, and a significant percentage of no other living population outside of Asia commonly has them, it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s going on here. Modern Chinese evolved from an Asian erectus that was already different from erectus in Africa and Europe! 10 The OoA position, that the Asian erectus with its shoveled incisors was replaced by modern Africans without shoveled incisors 65,000 ya, who then evolved shoveled incisors a second time in Asia, is simply incredible.
    In addition to shoveled incisors, all Chinese skulls from erectus to the present show a remarkable similarity in head shape and facial characteristics, as well as a gradual change in features. (Pope, 1992).
    Table 17-1 summarizes the skulls presented in this chapter; Java Man is from Indonesia, but hominin fossils of about the same date have been found in China (Zhu, 2008).

Table 17-1
Skull Classified as Cranial Capacity (cc) Age (ya)
Java H. erectus 940 1,700,000
Peking H. erectus 1075 500,000 – 300,000
Dali Erectus-sapiens 1120 270,000
Jinniushan Hs. 1330 260,000
Liujiang Hss 1480 150,000
Living Asians Hss. 1491 0

    Table 17-1 shows an almost continuous increase in cranial capacity from H. erectus to modern Chinese, excellent evidence that modern Chinese evolved in China. (Etler, 1996). And, while we are on this subject, take a look at the Chinese “firsts” in Table 17-2. 11

Table 17-2
First Date Place in China Reference (see Morton, 2002)
Occupation of China 12 2.25 mya Renzidong Cave, Anhui (Hotz, 2000)
Occupation in Asia north of 40° latitude 13 1.36 mya Nihewan Basin (Zhu, 2001, p. 413)
Asian hand ax 14 800 kya Rezidong Cave, Anhui (Hotz, 2000, p. 24)
Asian fire 15 500 kya Zhoukoudian (Barnouw, 1982, p. 141)
Association of men with dogs 16 500 kya Zhoukoudian (Serpell, 1995, pp. 8-10)
Oldest writing 8600 ya Jiahu (Senner, 1989)

    (All “firsts” are by erectus except writing, which is by Hss.) Are these tables consistent with the OoA theory, which asserts that there were no modern men in China until modern Africans left Africa 65,000 ya and migrated there thousands of years later? 17


Figure 17-11
               The Hobbit
    In 2003, an 18,000 year old skull of a 32 year old (age approximated from worn teeth and fused skull bones) female was discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores ("Homo floresiensis"). She was about 1 meter tall (3’ 4”) and had a cranial capacity of only 417 cc, 18 smaller than a chimpanzee’s, though the frontal part of her brain would have been “well-wired.” The skull appeared to be a dwarf form of an early erectus, earning it the nickname, the “Hobbit.” 19 The Hobbits were fully bipedal, used stone tools and fire, and hunted dwarf elephants also found on the island. The skull (Fig. 17-11) had a protruding jaw, large teeth, brow ridges, and the sloping forehead; both a chin and an external nose are absent. The skeletons are also reported to have “shoulders … hunched slightly more forward than in modern humans, and … extraordinarily short legs ended in long feet.” 20 Note that the ape skeletons (Fig. 9-30) have shoulders hunched forward and short legs. The feet of apes are also long in proportion to their height. (Coon, 1962, p. 248). The Hobbits show similarities to Homo habilis above the neck and to Australopithecus below the neck. 21
    Since the current population of Flores is also of very small stature and the Hobbits were living there from at least 94,000 ya to at least as recently as 13,000 ya, 22 they may have been ancestors of the current population on the island. The afrocentrists take the position that all living people are modern, but the Hobbit skull (Fig. 17-11) clearly is not modern, so either the Hobbits evolved into modern humans in only 13,000 yrs (extremely unlikely) or the present population is not modern (no, the afrocentrists insist that every living person is modern, and if they are modern, the Hobbits must have been modern). The only other possibility is that OoA is wrong and modern humans either did not arise only in Africa and leave only 65,000 ya, or they did not evolve in Africa at all.

Chapter 18

Table of Contents


1. (Schwartz, 2005, p. 90). Most African fossils have been found in the Rift Valley of East Africa, which once had volcanoes. Volcanic ash quickly killed, buried, and preserved hominids, a blessing for paleoanthropologists that Eurasia did not have. Consequently, that’s where they look for hominid fossils and, if you don’t look, you don’t find. Back

2.  The Cosquer cave on the Mediterranean, where Cro-Magnon paintings were found, is now 120 feet below sea level, an indication of how much water was tied up in glaciers during ice ages. Back

3. Note, in the discussion of Chapter 26, Figure 2, that the area where these fossils were found was mixed Negro and white in 1492; if migration was into Africa, instead of out of Africa, the area would have been all white at the time the fossils lived. Back

4. If modern man had evolved in Africa and migrated out of Africa through NE Africa 65,000 ya, one would expect there to be racial continuity between prehistoric NE African skulls and the skulls of today’s NE Africans. However, none was found. (Howells, 1989, citing: Skull shapes and the map: craniometric analyses in the dispersion of modern Homo. (1989) and Who's Who in skulls: ethnic identification of crania from measurements (1995), Peabody Museum Papers 79:1-189 and 82:1-108, respectively). Back

5. Teeth from the site were dated at 95 kya by uranium dating. Back

6.  There were two mudstone layers in the unexcavated cave deposits and there were two corresponding layers in the internal cranial deposits of the skull; the oldest layer has been dated at 110 kyr. (Zhao, 2004). Back

7. “TIMS U-series [thermal ionization mass spectrometry, uranium series] dates for another hominid fossil from Liujiang, that is an anatomically modern Homo sapiens fossil show that the Liujiang hominid is probably older than 150 ka. This exceeds the age estimate the oldest anatomically modern hominid in Africa.” Advanced Centre for Queensland University Isotope Research Excellence. Also see (Shen, 2002). Back

8. American Indians, Eskimos, , Mongolians, and part of the Japanese and Chinese populations have the highest incidence of shoveled incisors, followed by Hawaiian aborigines, most of the Japanese and Chinese, then the Indonesians, Polynesians, Micronesians and Ainu; American Negroes, Bantu, Fijians, American whites, and Finns have the lowest incidence. (Suzuki, M. & Sakai, T., "Morphological analysis of the shovel-shaped teeth," J. Anthrop. Soc. Nippon, 74:202-218). Back

9. (Swisher III, 2001). Java Man is similar to Peking Man but is the only hominid with a gap (“diastema”) in its upper jaw to provide space for the lower canines. (Howells, 1959, p. 157). “… the shovel shape of the incisor teeth, can be seen in fossils 750,000 years old; in the famous Peking Man fossils, which are a quarter of a million years old; and in modern Chinese populations.” (Leakey, 1994, p. 88). Living Chinese people also have flatter frontal bones and wider and more prominent cheekbones than other modern humans (Chap. 9, Fig. 17), and so do many Homo erectus, archaic, and human fossils skulls found in China. Erectus and Hs from other regions also show racial characteristics, which indicates that the races of man are ancient and arose even before the species of man. (Coon, 1962, p. 351). Back

10.  (Chap. 4, Rule 10; Wolpoff, 1991). An examination of over 5000 fossil teeth going back to Australopithecus showed that African teeth differ from Eurasian teeth. (Martinón-Torres, 2007). Back

11. (Morton, 2002). To the list, one can add earliest death ritual, 500 kya. (Corballis, 1991, p. 42, citing Clark, 1969). Back

12. Two million year old worked stones have been found in China and Indonesia. (Coppens, 2004, p. 99). Back

13. “Stone tools found,” BBC News, Sept. 27, 2001. Also, THIS Back

14.  Tools may have been used earlier in Asia than in Africa or Europe, but if they were bamboo tools rather than stone tools, there would be no trace of them today. Back

15. “Sinanthropus [Chinese erectus] had fire.” (Coon, 1962, p. 436; Howells, 1948, p. 148). At Dragon Bone Hill, the Chinese erectus had fire in a cave between 620,000 and 410,000 ya, long before Hss allegedly arose in Africa 160,000 ya. (Boaz, 2004). Fire use was recently reported in Africa up to 1.5 million ya but evidence for control of the fire may not be decisive. “Only in Africa is there evidence that fire arrived late, as late as 40,000 years ago.” (Coon, 1962, p. 332). The higher vulnerability of blacks to lung cancer may be because they did not possess fire as early as other races. (See PDE4 gene in Chap. 13.) Back

16. This should probably be “wolves,” instead of “dogs.” (Olsen, 1977). Back

17. “In my opinion, the Sinanthropus [Chinese erectus] remains show that as early as 360,000 years ago some peoples had attained a level of social organization in which men of fifty, who had passed their physical prime, were tolerated, if not fed, by their juniors.” (Coon, 1962, p. 103). Back

18.  Note the dent in the top of the head, similar to some African skulls (Chap. 9, Fig. 13), perhaps suggesting an ancient erectus common ancestor. Back

19. Some scientists believed the Hobbit was not a new species of humans, but a modern human who had microcephaly, a (usually) genetic disease that produces a small head and brain. Later, two mandibles and the bones of at least 9 similar individuals were found, and they could not all be microcephalic. Unlike modern humans, the mandibles had some twin-rooted molars, which also suggested a new species. (Gordon, 2008). Back

20. (Brown, 2004; Morwood, 2004, 2005; Lahr, 2004; also see footnote on page 112 of Coon, 1962). Back

21. (Tocheri, 2007). Also see (Berger, 2008) for similar findings on Palau in Micronesia. Back

22. Bones of other individuals and stone tools support those dates. Powledge (2006) says Hobbits lived only 12,000 ya and they may have lived as recently as 250 ya. The small people now living on Flores say the Hobbits stole and scavenged from their villages. They chattered, were naked, and lived in caves. (Davies, 2004). When they took an infant, the villagers killed every Hobbit they found. (Wikipedia, “Ebu Gogo”). Back