4.14 Taung Child Skull - Fossil

4.14.1 Background

Australopithecus africanus

TIME: Tertiary (Late Pliocene)

LOCALITY: Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania)

SIZE: 4 ft 4 in/1.3 m tall

The skull of an infant specimen of A. Africanus--"southern ape of Africa"--was unearthed in the Transvaal in 1924. It was largely disregarded by anthropologists of the time, who thought that human origins lay with another fossil found some years earlier in Piltdown in southern England. This latter fossil, which appeared to possess a large brain, was later proved a fake. A. africanus is now rightly regarded as a hominid; one which lived from about 3 million to about 1 million years ago. Even if A. africanus was not our direct ancestor, it was certainly very close. The brain was small by modern standards, being about the same size as a chimpanzee's (up to 400 cc), and the face still had heavy, apelike jaws. The canines were reasonably large, but in other respects, the teeth were quite human. Like A. afarensis, it was a slightly built creature, weighing about 65lb/30kg, which walked upright. More important than its overall appearance, though, was its lifestyle. Some have claimed that it had moved from woodland to open savannah. Tools and cooperative hunting techniques were already developed. To mention a few, a gang of individuals hunting down and killing a single animal or chasing away another animals from its kill. Others argue that the evidence is equivocal. The bone "tools" are so ill formed that they are probably nothing more than the remains of a hyena's meal. Although hunting was probably significant in human evolution, it is likely that plants--including seeds, nuts, fruit, leaves, stems and roots--formed the major part of the diet.[60]

The skull of a the Taung child fossil was used in the process to evaluate the system further. This fossil consists of three parts, the brain area, the front facial section and part of the lower jaw. Anthropologists used this fossil to reconstruct a complete skull of the Taung child. The reconstructed skull and jaw were also scanned in order to capture the geometry.

Hydromed Hospital at Bloemfontein scanned these parts. The data was retrieved and converted according to the data retrieval procedure.

4.14.2 Conclusion

The nature of the geometry is extremely complex and free form. The complete skull featured many undercuts and hard to reach areas. No conventional 3- or 4-axis scanning system would be used to capture this geometry successfully. CAT scanning is the only method to reverse engineer these parts. The x-rays penetrated the hard to reach areas and undercut sections very easily and cost effectively. Again accuracy was not of great importance which made this reverse engineering technique ideal to use. Images

Representation of the Australopithecus Africanus



3D Images of the Taung Child fossilís skull


The three parts of the Taung Child fossil



CAT scanned 3D reconstructed image



3D image of the complete reconstructed skull


Another representation of the reconstructed skull


4.14.3 Taung Child Skull Data Sheet:
  Description Options (Default) Data


1 CT Image Names   Taung.00
2 Patient/Project Name   Taung.pat
3 Number of First Input Image   34.5
4 Number of Last Input Image   133.5
5 Number of First Output Image   000
7 Horisontal Nr. Of Image Pixels 0 to 65535 (265,512,1024) 512
8 Vertical Nr. Of Image Pixels 0 to 65535 (265,512,1024) 512
9 Number of Images per File (1) 1
10 File Swap Format (0,3) 0,3 0
11 Pixel Type B,UB,S,US,L,UL,F GEADVA
12 Header Size *see formula below -
13 Inter Image Header Size 0 -
14 Add Value 0 to 4095 -
15 Scale Value 0 to 4095 -
16 Table Position (mm) 34.5
17 Distance Between Slices (mm) 3
18 Slice thickness (mm) 3
19 Pixel Size SQ. F.O.R./Nr. Hor. Pixels (mm) 0.36
20 Gantry Tilt Angle Degrees 0
21 Field of Reconstruction/View (mm) 185
22 Number of Images   33
23 File Size of CAT Image kb 270-285
24 File Size of Converted Image kb 11-55
25 .3dd file size Mb 1.2,1.4 
26 .STL file size Mb 9.4, 12.5
27 RP Method (SLA,FDM,OTHER) -
28 .IGS file size Mb -
29 RP Slice file size Mb -
30 RP Download File size Mb -
31 Grow Time Hour -
32 Tip size (T12, T25) -
33 Slice Thickness (0.01", 0.014") -
34 Finishing Time Hour -
35 Processing Time Hour -
36 Data Retrieval Time Hour -
37 Total Cost Rand =33*100=3300


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