Image: ‘Kabwe’ or ‘Broken Hill 1’ Homo heidelbergensis skull

‘Kabwe’ or ‘Broken Hill 1’ Homo heidelbergensis skull

Discovered: 1921 in Kabwe (formerly Broken Hill), Zambia

This skull was the first fossil of a human ancestor to be discovered in Africa. It combines primitive features such as a wide face, thick arching brow ridges and a sloping forehead with a large brain capacity of 1280 cubic centimetres. The date of this specimen is uncertain but it may be 300,000 years old. This individual had significant tooth decay and a number of associated abscesses had decayed the upper jaw bone. Significant dental decay such as this was unusual in our ancestors prior to the development of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago when more sugars and starchy foods were included in the diet.

Stuart Humphreys
© Australian Museum

Last Updated: