Brainy Thoughts About an Ancient Pelvic Bone

Modern man has a big head. No, he doesn't have a massive ego, but his cranium is notably bigger than his ancestors'. Scientists have known as much for more than a century, but the discovery of a roughly 1.2-million-year-old female pelvis in Ethiopia has become an unlikely confirmation of this fact, says Case Western Reserve University anatomist Scott Simpson, Ph.D.

Reconstructed pelvic bone

This 1.2-million-year-old female pelvis (areas in blue mark damaged or missing areas of the original fossil) was found in Ethiopia. Photo: Russell Lee

Simpson's restoration of the ancient pelvis is shown here, with blue marking damaged or missing areas of the original fossil.

The bones show that Homo erectus females had larger birth canals than their predecessors, and smaller birth canals than their future relatives.

Over time, the pelvis adapted to accommodate the larger heads—and brains—of modern man.


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