palaeolithic man

Boskop Man

Boskop Man was once thought to be a unique and ancient hominid genus. The possible genus was based on a skull discovered in 1913.The skull of this hominid was 30 percent larger than the modern human skull. They lived in southern Africa probably between 30,000 and 10,000 years ago. The term "Boskop Man" is no longer used by anthropologists, and their supposedly unusual characteristics are considered to be a misinterpretation (see, for example The "amazing" Boskops).

The first Boskop skull was discovered in 1913 by Frederick FitzSimons; many related subsequent skulls were discovered by other prominent paleontologists of the time, including Robert Broom, Alexander Galloway, William Pycraft, Sidney Haughton, Raymond Dart, and others.

The popular science writer Loren Eiseley described them in his book "The Immense Journey" (1958):

... ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth.... He lived in Africa. His brain was bigger than your brain. His face was straight and small, almost a child’s face. When the skull is studied in projection and ratios computed, we find that these fossil South African folk, generally called “Boskop” or “Boskopoids” after the site of first discovery, have the amazing cranium-to-face ratio of almost five to one. In Europeans it is about three to one. This figure is a marked indication of the degree to which face size had been “modernized” and subordinated to brain growth.

Further reading

Neuroscientists from Dartmouth Brain Engineering Laboratory recently published a book on human intelligence titled Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligenceby Gary Lynch and Richard Granger, in which Boskops fossils play a prominent role. The authors suggest that the Boskops possessed a large forebrain possibly indicating a relatively high IQ.


  • Broom R (1918). The Evidence Afforded by the Boskop Skull of a New Species of Primitive Man (Homo capensis). Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 23: 65–79.
  • Dart R (1923). Boskop remains from the south-east African coast. Nature, 112: 623–625.
  • Dart R (1940). Recent discoveries bearing on human history in southern Africa. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 70: 13–27.
  • Eiseley L. (1958) The Immense Journey. London: V.Gollancz.
  • FitzSimons FW (1915).Palaeolithic man in South Africa. Nature, 95: 615–616.
  • Galloway A (1937). The Characteristics of the Skull of the Boskop Physical Type. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 32: 31–47.
  • Haughton S (1917). Preliminary note on the ancient human skull remains from the Transvaal. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 6: 1–14.
  • Pycraft W (1925). On the Calvaria Found at Boskop, Transvaal, in 1913, and Its Relationship to Cromagnard and Negroid Skulls. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 55: 179–198.
  • Tobias P (1985). History of Physical Anthropology in Southern Africa. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 28: 1–52.
  • Lyall Watson (1986). Dreams of Dragons/Earthworks

External links

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