Fossil Homo femur from Berg Aukas, northern Namibia



The proximal half of a hominid femur was recovered from deep within a paleokarst feature at the Berg Aukas mine, northern Namibia. The femur is fully mineralized, but it is not possible to place it in geochrono logical context. It has a very large head, an exceptionally thick diaphyseal cortex, and a very low collodiaphyseal angle, which serve to differentiate it from Holocene homologues. The femur is not attributable to Australopithecus, Paranthropus, or early Homo (i.e., H. habilis sensu lato). Homo erectus femora have a relatively longer and AP flatter neck, and a shaft that exhibits less pilaster than the Berg Aukas specimen. Berg Aukas also differs from early modern femora in several features, including diaphyseal cortical thickness and the degree of subtrochanteric AP flattening.

The massive diaphyseal cortex of Berg Aukas finds its closest similarity within archaic H. sapiens (e.g., Castel di Guido) and H. erectus (e.g., KNM-ER 736) samples. It has more cortical bone at midshaft than any other specimen, although relative cortical thickness and the asymmetry of its cross-sectional disposition at this level are comparable with those of other Pleistocene fem ora. The closest morphological comparisons with Berg Aukas are in archaic (i.e., Middle Pleistocene) H. sapiens and Neandertal samples. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.