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2008 | 71 | 1 | 43-61

Article title

A re-examination of a human femur found at the Blind River Site, East London, South Africa: Its age, morphology, and breakage pattern


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Modern human femoral features might have appeared in the early Middle Stone Age (156 ka to 20 ka) in South Africa, as demonstrated by the recent re-examination of a human femur fossil found at the Blind River Site, East London in the 1930s, if new dating results hold. Two optically stimulated luminescence dates from the relocated original Blind River shallow marine/estuarine deposits that contained the femur gave almost identical ages of ~120 ka, corresponding to the early part of the Last Interglacial (Oxygen Isotope Stage 5). Overall, the slender headless femur is of modern human form. The distal epiphysis bears some typical squatting features, including a newly recognized squatting facet on the anterior wall of the intercondylar fossa. With the typical V-shaped and oblique fracture pattern left by the missing head, the Blind River femur was most likely modified through human activity. But this style is not a cultural trait found in recent South African people. Further study is needed to place this specimen in its due context in the course of human evolution.
Kość udowa z Blind River została odkryta w East London (Afryka Południowa) w 1933 r., pozostawała jednak niezauważona w literaturze, mimo, że znaleziska takich sfosylizowanych kości zdarzają się rzadko, a ich znaczenie dla badań pochodzenia człowieka jest duże. Przyczyną tego było niepewne datowanie znaleziska, przeszkodę tę jednak ostatnio udało się pokonać dzięki zastosowaniu metody stymulowanej optycznie luminescencji (OSL). Datowanie OSL estuaryjnych osadów, z których pochodzi kość, wskazuje na wiek około 120 tys. lat, co odpowiada początkowej fazie ostatniego interglacjału.Kość udowa z Blind River, w stanie, w jakim się zachowała, nie wskazuje żadnych, nawet drobnych różnic w stosunku do dzisiejszego człowieka. Jej nowoczesne cechy i lokalizacja geograficzna potwierdzają związek nowoczesnych populacji ludzkich z południową Afryką. Omawiana kość ma bardzo smukły trzon. Jest ona pozbawiona głowy, a jej dalsza nasada wykazuje typowe dla nawykowego kucania cechy, w tym pogłębiony dół dla rzepki i głęboki dół międzykłykciowy. Trzon kości jest przełamany, a powierzchnia przełomu jest niezerodowana i ma ostre krawędzie. Brzeg złamania wykazuje cechy charakterystyczne dla złamania świeżej kości i nosi ślady modyfikacji na skutek działania człowieka. Modyfikacja ta jednak nie przypomina jakichkolwiek znanych kulturowych zabiegów dokonywanych przez ludy Afryki południowej. Jeśli zaakceptujemy wiek geologiczny kości z Blind River, mamy do czynienia z zasadniczo nowoczesną kością ze śladami modyfikacji dokonanych ludzką ręką już w czasach ostatniego interglacjału lub środkowej epoki kamiennej (MSA), tj. 156-20 tys. lat temu.










Physical description


  • Division of Basic Medical Sciences, Mercer University School of Medicine, 1550 College Street, Macon, GA 31207, USA
  • School of Anatomical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, Parktown 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Council for Geoscience, PO Box 572, Bellville, South Africa
  • School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, 2522, Australia


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