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Keywords:

  • endocast;
  • Homo erectus;
  • Hexian;
  • Zhoukoudian;
  • brain evolution

Abstract

In this paper, we present data on the morphological features and linear measurements for the Hexian Homo erectus and other comparative endocasts, in order to highlight variation during human brain evolution. The endocast of Hexian was reconstructed in 1982, and an endocranial volume of 1,025 ml was estimated. The geological age is about 412 ka, or roughly contemporaneous with the Zhoukoudian (ZKD) specimens. There are some differences between Hexian and the modern Chinese male endocasts in our sample, including low position of the greatest breadth, low maximum height, a well-marked and prominent frontal keel, the flat surface of the frontal lobes, prominent sagittal keel along the center frontal and parietal lobes, depressed Sylvian areas and parietal lobes superiorly, strong posterior projection of the occipital lobes, anterior position of the cerebellar lobes relative to the occipital lobes, and the relative simplicity of the meningeal vessels. Compared with the ZKD, Indonesian, and African Homo erectus specimens, Hexian has more morphological features in common with ZKD. Principal component analyses indicate that Hexian is closest to the ZKD Homo erectus compared with the modern Chinese and other Homo erectus, but its great breadth distinguishes it. Metric analyses show that the brain height, frontal breadth, cerebral height, frontal height, and parietal chord from Homo erectus to modern humans increased, while the length, breadth, frontal chord, and occipital breadth did not change substantially. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.