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paranthropus robustus: SK 48

  • Geologic Age:

    2 Ma - 1.5 Ma

  • Discovered By:

    Fourie (local quarryman)

  • Discovery Location:

    Swartkrans, South Africa

  • Specimen Age:


  • Sex:


    SK 48 is a semi-complete cranium with evidence of crushing during deposition, and other damage inflicted when the specimen was blasted from the Transvaal cave where it was original located. Most of the SK 48's braincase is missing, particularly the posterior region. The left molars are present, as is the alveoli for the right incisors. The roots for the left second premolar are present as well.

    Because of its relatively small sagittal crest and small canines, SK 48 was original described as a female1,2. The post canine teeth are very large, including obvious molarization of the premolars. Large zygomatics are present, along with a flat face that is dish-shaped in lateral view3,4. SK 48 exhibits a relatively anteriorly placed sagittal crest, a low rising frontal, postorbital constriction, a large face relative to the neurocranium, and a distinct frontal trigon4. It has also been noted that the nuerocortical morphology of SK 48 (and Paranthropus robustus as a species) is more ape-like than Australopithecus africanus3.

    1. Broom R and Robinson JT. 1952. Swartkrans Ape-Man: Paranthropus crassidens. Transvaal Museum: Pretoria. Memoir No. 6.
    2. Johanson D and Edgar B. 2006. From Lucy to Language: Revised, Updated, and Expanded. New York: Simon and Schuster.
    3. Klein RG. 2009. The Human Career: Human Biological and Cultural Origins. Third Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    4. Schwartz JH and Tattersall I. 2005. The Human Fossil Record: Craniodental Morphology of Early Hominids (Genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Orrorin), and Overview. Volume Four. Hoboken: Wiley Liss

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