Minda Berbeco's picture

Answer Monday!

Last week on Fossil Friday I gave you a more challenging fossil—or at least the photo was more challenging!  Plus it came with a very special riddle.

Dan Phelps was the first to correctly identify the skull. (See the comments section.)  Dan gets extra points because apparently he has his own model of the skull at home.

So, who was this past week's Fossil?  I turn once again to Eric Meikle for the salient details:

"This is the type specimen of Homo rhodesiensis, but most people now consider that to be the same species as Homo heidelbergensis, which has priority as a name. Decades ago this specimen was commonly known as 'Rhodesian Man' following its discovery in cave deposits at Broken Hill (now Kabwe) in what was then Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). It's geological age is not precisely determined, but is probably on the order of several hundred thousand years old."

As for the riddle?  Eric says:

"The early 20th century operetta The Student Prince takes place in Heidelberg. Cecil Rhodes established the Rhodes Scholarships and promoted British colonization in Rhodesia. The skull was found in 1921, 92 years ago, and is one of the oldest hominid fossils with extensive dental decay and abscesses. We don't know the cause of death, but this individual was suffering painful infections in the jaws and mouth at the end of life, and chewing cannot have been easy."

Oof, turns out last week's Fossil Friday was also a lesson in going to the dentist regularly! Stay tuned this Friday when we present the final skull in our Day of the Dead celebration.