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Keywords:

  • endocast;
  • virtual reconstruction;
  • modern human origins

Abstract

Endocasts provide evidence on size and shape characteristics, blood supply trajectories, and neurological features of the brain, allowing comparative analyses of fossil hominins crucial to our understanding of human brain evolution. Here, we assess the morphological features of the virtual endocast of the Cioclovina Upper Paleolithic calvarium, one of the earliest reliably dated European modern human fossils. Our study was conducted on a computed tomography (CT) scan of the original specimen. The endocranial profile was approximated via a semiautomatic segmentation of the CT data. Virtual reconstructions of the endocast were used for assessing the morphological features of the endocranium and for the estimation of the endocranial volume. Cioclovina exhibits a clockwise torque with a small anterior extension of the left frontal lobe over the right one and a protrusion of the right occipital lobe over the left, most likely due to the superior sagittal sinus coursing over the occipital pole. There is an obvious right predominance of the posterior drainage system. Interestingly, the area of the frontal sinus is occupied by dense bony tissue with small air cells corresponding probably to a natural bony loss in the diploë and to vascular spaces. An estimated endocranial volume of 1498.53 cc was calculated. The convolutional details of the third inferior frontal gyrus (Broca's caps) are indistinguishable from those found in modern Homo sapiens, and the left occipital lobe appears wider than the right, a possible correlate of right-handedness. Our metric analysis of endocranial measurements also aligns Cioclovina with modern humans. Anat Rec, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.