Zinjanthropus Boisei

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Paranthropus boisei, also known Zinjanthropus boisei, was an early type of hominid that was described as the largest of the Paranthropus species. It lived from about 2.6 until about 1.2 million years ago during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs in Eastern Africa.

Zinjanthropus boisei had the largest teeth found in any hominid group, with teeth similar in size to gorillas (who weigh as much as 10 times as much). They are often referred to as hyper-robust due to the massive postcanine megadontia. The features of boisei are best described in relation to the other "robusts" (including aethiopicus), since this best shows some of the features that exclude aethiopicus from the "robust" lineage in favor of africanus. Nevertheless, its cranial capacity was 550 cm3, larger than that of a modern gorilla.

Paranthropus b. was discovered by anthropologist Mary Leakey on July 17, 1959, at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the well-preserved cranium, which was nicknamed "Nutcracker Man," was dated to 1.75 million years old and had characteristics distinctive of the robust australopithecines. Mary and her husband Louis Leakey classified the find as Zinjanthropus boisei: "Zinj" for the medieval East African region of Zanj, "anthropus" meaning ape or ape-human, and "boisei" for Charles Boise (the anthropologists team’s funder at the time).
Paranthropus boisei (as the species was eventually categorized) proved to be a treasure especially when the anthropologists' son Richard Leakey considered it to be the first hominin species to use stone tools. Another skull was unearthed in 1969 by Richard at Koobi Fora near the Lake Turkana region, in Kenya.