Hofmeyr Skull – [Archaeological evidence for African Homo sapiens sapiens not published between 1952 and the first decade of the 21st century – after over 50 years of pointing out its absence and consequnt conclusions about – The First Europeans” – The First Humans to Enter Eurasia (“Europe”) !

Modern Human (anatomically modern human) – Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens –  Though originally discovered in 1952 publication of its age and location on the human family tree was not done until the first decade of the 21st century!

The skull demonstrates that humans in Africa 36,000 years ago resembled those in Eurasia. This evidence supports the recent single-origin hypothesis, which suggests that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa before 200,000 to 100,000 years ago, with members of one branch leaving Africa between 65,000 and 25,000 years ago, spreading to the rest of the world and replacing other Homo species already there

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hofmeyr Skull

Hofmeyr Skull.jpg

Common name
Hofmeyr Skull

Homo sapiens

37,000 years

Place discovered
South Africa Coordinates: 31°34′S 25°58′E

Date discovered

The Hofmeyr Skull is a specimen of a 37,000 year old human skull found in 1952. It is one of the very few modern human skulls discovered in Africa south of Ethiopia and older than 20,000 years.


The skull was found in the 1950s on the surface of an erosion gully,[1] a dry channel bed of the Vlekpoort River, near Hofmeyr,[2][3] a small town in Eastern Cape, South Africa. No other bones or archaeological artefacts were found in the vicinity at the time of the skull’s discovery.[2] The skull is one of only a few African specimens of early modern humans dated over 30,000. Others are much more recent, dated to around 20,000 years ago.

In the 1990s, Alan Morris of the University of Cape Town noticed the skull in the Port Elizabeth Museum. He later showed it to Frederick E. Grine, an anthropologist and anatomist at State University of New York at Stony Brook. Grine then led a detailed study of the skull.[1]


It was not possible to date the skull using traditional radiocarbon dating, as the carbon had leached out of the bone. Instead, a new method involving a combination of optically stimulated luminescence and uranium-series dating methods was used. The method was developed by Richard Bailey of Oxford University. The earth material from the skull “filling the endocranial cavity” (central portion of the endocranial cavity) was dated using a combination of optically stimulated luminescence and uranium-series dating methods, coupled through a radiation-field model. Based on the assumption that the earth in the skull is about the age of its inhumation and thus the same as the age of the skull,[4] age was estimated to 36,200 ± 3,200 years old.[2]

The dating also assumed that the skull “had neither been uncovered long before nor transported any substantial distance before its discovery”. The material in the skull can not have been washed out or replaced by water flowing down the gully because “the force required to scour the inner-most sediments would certainly have resulted in substantial damage” of the skull, and the skull did not appear to the dating team to have been damaged that much.[2]

The anterior part of the lower facial skeleton has been damaged. The angle of the mandible, the mastoid process of the right temporal, and much of the occipital are not present. The coronal suture is obliterated and the third molars are heavily worn, suggesting that the specimen reached adulthood. The skull’s owner had been wounded over his left eye and the wound had partially healed before death. The most severe damage to the skull, however, was caused during its time in storage and “mishandling” after its 1950 discovery. A lost bone is documented on pictures from 1968 and 1998.[2]


The Hofmeyr fossil was compared with skulls from Sub-Saharan Africa, including those of the KhoeSan, who are geographically close to the site of the find. Using 3-dimensional measurement and mapping techniques, the study found that the Hofmeyr Skull is rather distinct from those of recent Sub-Saharan Africans, and that its closest affinities were with the people who lived in Eurasia in the Upper Paleolithic period, at the same time as the Hofmeyr skull.

Alan Morris said that the skull’s owner “would not look like modern Africans or like modern Europeans, or like modern Khoisan people, but he is definitely a modern human being”.[1]

The skull demonstrates that humans in Africa 36,000 years ago resembled those in Eurasia. This evidence supports the recent single-origin hypothesis, which suggests that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa before 200,000 to 100,000 years ago, with members of one branch leaving Africa between 65,000 and 25,000 years ago, spreading to the rest of the world and replacing other Homo species already there.[1]

See also
List of fossil sites (with link directory)
List of hominina (hominid) fossils (with images)


Grine, Fe; Bailey, Rm; Harvati, K; Nathan, Rp; Morris, Ag; Henderson, Gm; Ribot, I; Pike, Aw (Jan 2007). “Late Pleistocene human skull from Hofmeyr, South Africa, and modern human origins”. Science 315 (5809): 226–9. Bibcode:2007Sci…315..226G. doi:10.1126/science.1136294. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 17218524.
The length of time between death and incorporation of the sediment within the skull is expected to be short: Grine 2007

Further reading
F. E. Grine, FE; R. M. Bailey; K. Harvati; R. P. Nathan; A. G. Morris; G. M. Henderson; I. Ribot; A. W. G. Pike (12 January 2007). “Late Pleistocene Human Skull from Hofmeyr, South Africa, and Modern Human Origins”. Science 315 (5809): 226–229. Bibcode:2007Sci…315..226G. doi:10.1126/science.1136294. PMID 17218524.
Gosling, Melanie (12 January 2007). “Skull proves modern humans came from Africa”. The Star. p. 12.
Wilford, John Noble (11 January 2007). “Skull Provides Signs of When Humans Left Africa”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
Markey, Sean (12 January 2007). “Skull Is First Fossil Proof of Human Migration Theory, Study Says”. National Geographic.
Gunz, FE; Gunz, P; Betti-Nash, L; Neubauer, S; Morris, AG et al. (2010). “Reconstruction of the late Pleistocene human skull from Hofmeyr, South Africa”. Journal of Human Evolution (Elsevier) 59 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.02.007. PMID 20546848.

Categories: Homo sapiens fossils
Human remains (archaeological)
Recent African origin of modern humans
Prehistoric South Africa
Individual human heads, skulls and brains

This page was last modified on 11 September 2015, at 04:28.


  1. Clark Howell In American Anthropologist, April 1966


  1. Clark Howell (1960: “European And Northwest African Middle Pleistocene Hominids,” Current Anthropology, May, 1960


Where and when did the first settlers entered Europe?

Philip Van Doren Stern, Prehistoric Europe: From Stone Age Man to the Early Greeks (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York),

  1. 49: At its maximum, the great ice sheet covering northern Europe and most of the British Isles was two miles thick. It extended over all of Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea, and far into Germany (below Berlin) and Russia (beyond Moscow). Separate, less extensive glaciers covered the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Cevennes, and other high mountain areas. (p. 50): Still unanswered is the question of where and when the first settlers entered Europe. [Note: 1960s! … although geographical facts are true !]
  2. Clark Howell (1960: “European And Northwest African Middle Pleistocene Hominids,” Current Anthropology, May, 1960, P. 51:

“Howell believes that there was a primary dispersal of hominids from Africa to Asia and that the Mediterranean was greatly enlarged, and the otherwise narrow water-gaps or potential land bridges during the later regressive stages of glaciation) in the western (Gibralter) and northeastern Bosporus, Dardanelles) reaches of the Basin were submerged. (Howell: 1960: P. 51):

Spain – 300,000 Years Ago:

Fairly early evidence that men had been in Spain was found in 1961-1963 by Howell. Excavations he directed at Torralba and Ambrona yielded artifacts made by elephant hunters who lived there about 300,000 years ago. Unfortunately There Were No Human Remains. But There Were Many Hand-Axes And Some Bits Of Charred Wood Which Showed That These Ancient Men Had Used Fire To Drive Their Prey Into A Swamp Where It Would Be Trapped In The Soft Mud.

Chester S. Chard, writing three years later (1963:   “Implications Of Early Human Migrations From Africa To Europe,” Man, August, London, 1963, P. 124:

“Concluded that the Straits Of Gibralter were the best possibility for being “the gateway toEurope for the hand-axe people of the Lower Paleolithic. and it follows that we may expect eventually to find the oldest traces of European Man on Spanish soil.”

Southern France:

“Fire was also used at a much earlier site, the Escale Cave (Saint-Esteve-Janson) in the Durrance Valley In southern France, where “at least five hearths with reddened areas up to a meter in diameter and fire-cracked stones, and traces of ash and charcoals, have been encountered.” So says Howell (1966: “Observations on the Earlier Phases Of The European Lower Paleolithic,” American Anthropologist, April, 1966, p. 109). The site shows every promise of being one of the very most important ever discovered in the Lower Pleistocene in Europe.

750,000 Years Ago: Southern France – 1960:

(Howell: 1960: p. 51): “It is important because it may be the oldest known site in Europe with definite proof of human occupation. Men lived there perhaps as long as 750,000 Years Ago. It was discovered by Mme. Marie-Francoise Bonifay and Eugene Bonifay in 1960. Their report on it, presented in Paris In 1963 (p. 1136) to The Academie Des Sciences, says that the cave contained many extinct animal bones, some of them dating back to a very early period.

  1. 51: There are other very early sites in France. the Vallonnet Cave near Roquebrune was found in 1958. And during that year a deep municipal excavation at Montieres (Near Amiens) uncovered worked flints accompanied by the bones [p. 52] of a long-extinct ancestor of the horse, Equus stenonis which roamed Europe during the earliest Pleistocene

500,000 years ago:

(F. Clark Howell In American Anthropologist, April 1966, p. 91):

There are still more very early sites, some near Amiens in the valley of The Somme, some in England along the lower Thames. It must be remembered that the english channel did not yet exist, and the British Isles were connected to Europe. So far none of these very early European sites has yielded even a scrap of human bone. stone tools and evidence of fire exist, but nothing remains of the men who opened up the continent. This is not as strange as it may seem. these first Europeans did not bury their dead, so their bodies were torn apart by wild animals and consumed by insects. Bones scattered in the open do not last long; they have to be protected in alkaline soil to endure. and there were very few people then in Europe to leave remains. It is therefore not surprising that no human fossils have been found for the period before 500,000 years ago.

Germany – Homo erectus – 500,000 Years Ago:

[Note: Milford Wolpoff and other “multiregionalists (“Original Human Race and Modern Europeans did not develop or evolve in Africa … but separately in Europe and Asia !) are still holding on to using more recent archaological fossil finds of Homo erectus in Europe as evidence that a “European” derived Neanderthas from Homo erectus mingled with African Homo sapiens sapiens and exist today in “modern humans” (read: white European humans … despite “modern human fossil remains having also been discovered in Africa during the first decade of the 21st century “Hofmeyr fossils”]

The oldest one yet discovered is somewhat of a mystery. this is the famous Heidelberg Man, who has long been known, for he was brought to light on October 21, 1907. Unfortunatly, all that was recovered was a lower jaw, complete with teeth, that was dug out of the 78-foot level of a commercial sand pit in the Neckar River, a few miles southeast of Heidelberg, Germany. Since the find came from the Mauer sands, it is called the “Mauer Mandible.”

It is a mystery because it does not fit into the expected order of European fossil men. Associated with it were bones of elephants, rhinoceroses, and other animals that have long been extinct in Europe. These made it possible to date the mandible–roughly–by association. The date generally agreed upon is approximately 500,000 years ago. This means that Heidelberg Man could have been a representative of the species Homo Erectus. Perhaps he was, but his jawbone is unusually large, and it has several curious discrepancies, the chief of which is the fact that its teeth are fairly small and well advanced (manlike), while its receding chin and very wide rami are more apelike.

There has been much dispute about it ever since it was found. [p. 53] as late as 1965 (p. 258) C. L. Brace and Ashley Montagu still felt “fairly confident in assigning the Heidelberg jaw to the pithecanthropine (Homo erectus) stage.

“Others do not agree with them. writing in 1959 (p. 178), William W. Howells said (Mankind In The Making, New York) that ‘Heidelberg “cannot be classed with those early and primitive euhominids of the far east, Java and Peking Man.’ In The May 1960 issue of Current Anthropology (p. 212 f.) F. Clark Howell re-examined the Mauer (Heidelberg) Mandible and agreed that its teeth and bone structure have “fundamental differences” from those of Java And Peking Man and then suggested that it may belong to the same ancestral lineage as “Montmaurin man” and the first “Neandertals.”   In 1963 Ernst Mayr put it with Java And Peking Man. and then in 1964, Bernard G. Campbell stated that nothing about it warrants its being classified as Homo erectus or placing it in a “subspecific category of its own.” Thus this earliest European Man is still very much of an enigma.”

Carleton S. Coon, writing In 1962 (p. 492: The Origin Of Races, New York) said: “Because there is no Mauer Cranium we do not know to which species, Homo erectus or Homo Sapiens, Heidelberg Man belonged. Both the teeth and the narrow intercondylar width fit a higher grade than the other features of the bone itself, and both the jaw and its teeth fail to fit into the pattern of any of the other four lines of human evolution seen elsewhere in the world. Mauer therefore stands at the base of a line of its own.”


About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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