Nasal morphology and the emergence of Homo erectus

Authors

  • Robert G. Franciscus,

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131
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  • Erik Trinkaus

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131
    2. U.A. 376 du C.N.R.S., Laboratoire d'Anthropologie, Université de Bordeaux I, 33405 Talence, France
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Abstract

Modern humans, among extant hominoids, possess a unique projecting, external nose whose basic structure is reflected in a series of skeletal features including nasal bone convexity, an internasal angle, lateral nasal aperture eversion, prominence and anterior positioning of the anterior nasal spine, an acute angle of the subnasal alveolar clivus, and an expansion of the breadth of the nasal bones relative to that of the piriform aperture. This anatomy appears with the emergence of Homo erectus ca. 1.6 million years ago. Although it undoubtedly evolved in the context of craniofacial and dental reduction during hominid evolution, it appears to have been primarily a response to the need for moisture conservation in an arid environment via turbulence enhancement and ambient cooling of expired air. Its appearance at this time in hominid evolution, in conjunction with the presence of a fatigue-resistant locomotor anatomy characteristic of archaic members of the genus Homo, indicates a shift to increasingly prolonged bouts of activity in open and arid environments.

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