The endocast of the one-million-year-old human cranium from Buia (UA 31), Danakil Eritrea
The Homo erectus-like cranium from Buia (UA 31) was found in the Eritrean Danakil depression and dated to 1 million years. Its outer morphology displays archaic traits, as well as distinctive and derived characters. The present study provides the description and metric comparison of its endocranial anatomy. Materials and Methods UA 31 was originally filled by a diffuse concretion. Following its removal and cleaning, the endocast (995 cc) was reconstructed after physical molding and digital scan. Its morphology is here compared with specimens belonging to different human taxa, taking into account endocranial metrics, cortical traits, and craniovascular features. Results The endocast is long and narrow when compared to the H. erectus/ergaster hypodigm, although its proportions are compatible with the morphology displayed by all archaic and medium-brained human species. The occipital areas display a pronounced bulging, the cerebellum is located in a posterior position, and the middle meningeal vessels are more developed in the posterior regions. These features are common among specimens attributed to H. erectus s.l., particularly the Middle Pleistocene endocasts from Zhoukoudian. The parietal lobes are markedly bossed. This lateral bulging is associated with the lower parietal circumvolutions, as in other archaic specimens. This pronounced parietal curvature is apparently due to a narrow cranial base, more than to wider parietal areas. Conclusions The endocast of UA 31 shows a general plesiomorphic phenotype, with some individual features (e.g., dolichocephaly and rounded lower parietal areas) which confirm a remarkable degree of morphological variability within the H. erectus/ergaster hypodigm. Am J Phys Anthropol 160:458–468, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.