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Homo erectus

Turkana Boy


Period: Pleistocene

Family: Hominidae

Genus: Homo

Species: erectus

Collection Date: 1984

Collector: Kamoya Kimeu

Localization: West Turkana

Site Reference: Nariokotome III

Reference: Walker and Leakey, 1993

Catalogue: # KNM-WT15000

1.6 million years ago to today


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Description Summary

Homo erectus is a group of humans that lived during the early to late Pleistocene in Africa, Asia and Europe. They were bipedal walking uprightly on two legs, the average cranial capacity was 870 cc, they retained some level of sexual dimorphism. The postcranial anatomy of this species is known primarily from a remarkably complete skeleton of a young male from Nariokotome, Turkana ('Turkana Boi'), KNM-WT 15000. It is the H. erectus that left Africa and inhabited the rest of the continents.


Compared to the world we know, the Pleistocene was very cold, and glaciers- huge walls of ice- moved across the world, changing the land. This is the time our ancestors- at that time, the species called Homo erectus- began to move out of Africa to explore the rest of the world. In this time, there were many different species of human ancestors- this was the beginning of the group (genus) of species we call Homo, meaning “man,” that we think of as uniquely human. The most major species of humans from this time were Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens- the species we all are today. They often existed at the same time during the Pleistocene, until one became dominant- either by blending together other groups or destroying them in competition for food and space. The Pleistocene was a very challenging time for us, and probably because of this, we evolved faster than we ever have since- after the pleistocene, the only animals on Earth that we call “human” are ourselves, Homo sapiens. By the end of this time, we had pet dogs, used tools and wore clothes, travelled in large family groups, spoke many languages, and made all kinds of art