What You Can Learn From Bone Fragments: Porotic Hyperostosis And Meat Eating

I meant to write about this article back when it first came out in 2012. As you can see from the title, I was going to use it as part of my “What You Can Learn From Bone Fragments” series. In rereading the article and doing a little research to refresh my memory I have changed my mind about its usefulness in learning things from bone fragments.

The article in question is Domınguez-Rodrigo et al 2012 Earliest Porotic Hyperostosis on a 1.5-Million-Year-Old Hominin, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Dominguez-Rodrigo et al report on OH 81 – two refitting pieces of the posterior portion of a right parietal. The bones in question are attributed to a hominid of ~ two years old. Dominguez-Rodrigo et al start by, correctly, attributing the find to Hominidae gen. et sp. indet. but waffle somewhat later in the article (something I will discuss in a future post).

Figure 3. Ectocranial (top right) and endocranial (top left) close-up views of the OH 81 fossil, accompanied by magnifications of the porotic hyperostosis paleopathology as observed ectocranially (lower left) and edge-on at the diploic-table junction (lower right). Scale = 1 mm. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046414.g003 Oldest Evidence of Anemia in Human Evolution PLOS ONE

OH 81 does indeed have porotic hyperostosis as can be seen in the picture above so we can learn that much at any rate. The authors of the paper attribute the cause of the porotic hyperostosis to malnutrition during weaning or to nutritional deficiency in the mother’s diet. I am not sure that either of these are valid deductions and I will examine the question in a future post.

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