Artificial cranial deformation in Kow Swamp 1 and 5: A response to Curnoe (2007)

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Recently, Curnoe (2007) tested the predictions of competing models of modern human origins using three crania from Australia: Kow Swamp 1 and 5 and Keilor. The Kow Swamp specimens have long been suspected of having been altered through artificial deformation of the skull. Though Curnoe (2007) provided assurances that no evidence of deformation is present in those specimens, the current study retests the hypothesis that these Australian specimens are artificially deformed. The Australian crania are compared to known deformed individuals from New Britian through canonical variates analysis, and the resulting Mahalanobis distances are examined for statistical significance with random expectation statistics. The results show that Kow Swamp 1 and 5 have strong shape similarities to known deformed individuals, and both crania are very different in shape from Keilor. Keilor is statistically significantly different in shape from both Kow Swamp specimens and all of the known deformed specimens. These findings cast doubt on Curnoe's (2007) conclusions of a shared Australian cranial morphology as well as the retention of an archaic suite of morphologies in the Australians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalHOMO- Journal of Comparative Human Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 22 2008


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