Aging juvenile fossil hominins

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The fossil record is not made up only of adults. We have abundant skeletal evidence from juvenile individuals of a broad range of ages. At this station you will find model mandibles and maxillae from human children of a range of ages. These provide a comparison for the casts at the station, each of which represents a fossil hominin specimen from Africa, between 3.6 million and 1.5 million years ago.

The mandibles represent several different species. They include:

  1. OH 7, from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. This is the type specimen of Homo habilis, around 1.75 million years old.
  2. MLD 2, from Makapansgat, South Africa. This is an early specimen of Australopithecus africanus, around 2.7 million years old.
  3. LH 2, from Laetoli, Tanzania. An early specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, it is around 3.6 million years old.
  4. SK 47, from Swartkrans, South Africa. This is a juvenile specimen of Australopithecus robustus, around 1.5 million years old.
  5. A selection of other mandibles, including some adult mandibles of the same species, is also available. Examine these in comparison with the modern dental models. Which teeth are present in the fossil specimens? What teeth are in the process of eruption? What do they tell you about the ages of the individuals?