A comparison of the nariokotome Homo erectus with juveniles from a modern human population

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1999 Sep;110(1):81-93. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199909)110:1<81::AID-AJPA7>3.0.CO;2-T.


The Nariokotome Homo erectus has an apparent disjunction of inferred age as judged by dental maturity, by epiphyseal closure and by stature, when compared to modern human norms. On this basis, it has been suggested that this fossil hominin differed in its pattern of growth and development from modern humans. In particular, the characteristic human adolescent growth spurt may not yet have been present, and in this sense H. erectus growth would be more ape-like than human-like. This study tests this conclusion by examining the variation in age as inferred from the maturity indicators in a modern human skeletal population of known age. The results show that all of the maturity indicators used in this analysis underage the test skeletons. Furthermore, there is also no consistency between the indicators; they do not agree in their inferred chronological ages. The disjunction between the maturity indicators in the test skeletons is similar in pattern to the disjunction observed in the Nariokotome Homo erectus. This is particularly true of the relationship between dental age and the other two indicators. These results suggest that the pattern observed in Nariokotome is within the normal range of variation found in modern humans. It does not necessarily indicate a different pattern of growth and development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fossils*
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Male