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Anthro Skull Paper

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Project #1 Part 1

1) In 1995, the author and R.J. Clarke proposed that the Taung child hominin and the associated faunal assemblage recovered in 1924-1925 from the Taung site in South Africa were collected not by what were perceived to be the traditional agencies of accumulation of hominins in the Southern African context, but by an avian accumulating agent, i.e. a large predatory bird most probably similar in behavior and size to the living crowned hawk eagle.

2) Dr. Berger faced much criticism to his theory when it was first proposed. For example many believed there was not enough knowledge, nor understanding, of the bird-of-prey loading capacities. There were also concerns as to the ability of a large predatory bird to take such heavy prey as a juvenile early hominin. There also were “minimal and inconclusive” areas of damage found on the skull of the Taung child to draw such conclusions.

3) As stated in the American Journal of Anthropology article, Dr. Berger had originally found and seen the damage manifested as a puncture in the skull and also a ragged tear across the left side of the face. Dr. Berger initially attributed these marks to “talon damage” later to discover, after reviewing a paper for Drs. Scott McGraw, Catherine Cooke, and Suzanne Schultz that they were almost identical to the damage the three anthropologists had discovered in the monkey remains found in the nests of African Crowned Eagles.

4) Upon his review of the paper, written by Drs. Scott McGraw, Catherine Cooke, and Suzanne Schultz, Dr. Berger immediately reexamined the Taung skull and found the same markings. The damages included bone damage differing from that of big cats; flaps of depressed bone on top of the skull, keyhole-shaped cuts in the side of the skulls made by the eagle’s beaks and puncture mark and ragged incisions in the base of the eye sockets when the eagles would rip the eyes out of their prey.



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