|Species||Homo heidelbergensis (Homo rhodesiensis) or Homo erectus(?)|
|Place discovered||Bodo D'ar, Awash River valley of Ethiopia|
|Discovered by||Asfaw, Smart|
The Bodo cranium is a fossil of an extinct type of hominin species. It was found by members of an expedition led by Jon Kalb in 1976. The Rift Valley Research Mission conducted a number of surveys that led to the findings of Acheulean tools and animal fossils, as well as the Bodo Cranium. The initial discovery was by Alemayhew Asfaw and Charles Smart, who found a lower face. Two weeks later, Paul Whitehead and Craig Wood found the upper portion of the face. Pieces of the cranium were discovered along the surface of one of the dry branches of the Awash River in Ethiopia. The cranium, artifacts, and other animal fossils were found over a relatively large area of medium sand, and only a few of the tools were found near the cranium. The skull is 600,000 years old and is classified as Homo heidelbergensis (Homo rhodesiensis).
This specimen has an unusually large cranial capacity for its age that is estimated at around 1250 cc (in the range between ∼1,200–1,325 cc) within the (lower) range of modern Homo sapiens. The cranium includes the face, much of the frontal bone, parts of the midvault and the base anterior to the foramen magnum. The cranial length, width and height are 21 cm (8.3 in), 15.87 cm (6.2 in) and 19.05 cm (7.5 in) respectively. Researchers have suggested that Bodo butchered animals because Acheulean hand axes and cleavers, along with animal bones, were found at the site. Cuts on the Bodo cranium show the earliest evidence of removal of flesh immediately after the death of an individual using a stone tool. The findings of symmetrical cut marks with specific patterns and directionality on the cranium serve as strong evidence that de-fleshing was done purposefully for mortuary practices and represents the earliest evidence of non-utilitarian mortuary practices. The cut marks were located “laterally among the maxilla” causing speculation among researchers that the specific reason for de-fleshing was to remove the mandible.
The cranium has an unusual appearance, which has led to debates over its taxonomy. It displays both primitive and derived features, such as a cranial capacity more similar to modern humans and a projecting supraorbital torus more like Homo erectus. Bodo and other Mid-Pleistocene hominin fossils appear to represent a lineage between Homo erectus and anatomically modern humans, although its exact location in the human evolutionary tree is still uncertain. The increased encephalization seen in fossils like the Bodo cranium is thought to have been a driving force in the speciation of anatomically modern humans.