New Homo erectus Pelvis

Well, now we know why the publication date of the book on Ethiopian Homo erectus keeps getting pushed back. Kambiz has the story on the new female H. erectus pelvis. Most of the accounts I have seen focus on the birthing babies aspect – a hot research topic at the moment, but for my money the interesting part (and I say this without having read the paper) is this from National Geographic:

Dan Lieberman is an anthropologist at Harvard University who was also not involved in the study.
“This [new] pelvis is a nice addition to the fossil record,” Lieberman said. But he added that the discovery “raises many more questions than it answers.”
For example, it was known that H. erectus was probably sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females had different body sizes and shapes. The new fossil suggests the size difference may have been akin to that of gorillas, where males are much bigger than females–an idea Lieberman isn’t sold on.
“For this pelvis to be a female H. erectus, then we need to accommodate really considerable sexual dimorphism with very tall and narrow males and very short and wide females,” Lieberman said. “I need to be convinced.”

The pelvis belonged to a female with an estimated stature of about 4’5″ indicating a large amount of sexual dimorphism. This dovetails quite nicely with the small size of KNM-ER 42700. On the other hand, Christopher Ruff points out that this could be a H. habilis pelvis.
I can’t wait until the paper comes out.
Update 1: Kambiz was kind enough to send me the article along with the write up by Gibbons. I also downloaded the supplementary material (which is always open access). As soon as I work my way through it I will have more to say.

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6 Responses

  1. …the write up by Gibbons.

    I’m sorry, but that made me giggle until I noted the capitalization.

  2. Could you send me a copy of the paper, too? I was going to bring it up at the Bones, Stones, & Monkeys journal club this evening, but I figure it would be better to actually have it than just say I heard about it! Thanks!

  3. If anybody wants it, I have the paper, downloaded on my computer. Just send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to forward it to you(I’m assuming I have the right paper; it’s about 20 pages long IIRC0.
    Anne G

  4. It’s only five pages long. The supplemental material is quite long. Are you sure it is the right article. Let me know because Kambiz emailed me a copy and if you don’t have the correct one I will be more than happy to share.

  5. it’s probably the right article – it’s in science, and those are never very long.
    i’m not convinced about the baby birthin’ argument. with as many changes as were occuring during that time to skulls, legs and pelvises (pelvi?) i think it’s a bit rash to assume that pelvis size and gestation period automatically correspond. but this isn’t my speciality, i’m just a skeptical girl.

  6. There was a 30 or so page “addendum” to the 5 page article. So I guess I got the right one, because I have the 5 page one. And it’s even printed out. Thanks, though.
    Anne G

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