Homo rhodesiensis

Rhodesian man

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Arthur Smith Woodward
Arthur Smith Woodward
Homo rhodesiensis
H. rhodesiensis
(Enlarged view)
Homo rhodesiensis ("Rhodesian Man" or "Broken Hill Man") is based on a fairly complete cranium, known as the Kabwe Skull or Broken Hill 1, of a large-brained individual found in a mine at Broken Hill (now Kabwe), in northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) by Swiss miner Tom Zwiglaar in 1921. The specimen was first described by Arthur Smith Woodward (Woodward 1921), the palaeontologist who is one of the chief suspects in the perpetration of the Piltdown Man hoax.

Even if Woodward's now tainted reputation is left out of consideration, the validity of H. rhodesiensis as a distinct type of hominid is not well accepted. It has been variously suggested that the skull on which it is based should be assigned to one or the other of H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis, H. sapiens, or H. heidelbergensis.

Moreover, the age of the cranium is rather uncertain. Samples from the skull cannot be used to obtain an exact radiometric date and the site within the mine where the skull was found is now flooded. It is believed to be of Late Pleistocene age (between 120,000 and 300,000 years years old). But this doesn't narrow things down particularly much.

A great deal of speculation on this topic has led nowhere. No one really knows what the true significance of this skull might be, or even how old it is. All that anyone can say for sure is that Homo rhodesiensis is a clear example of a caveman of uncertain age and status.

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Etymology: The Latin word homo means "man" or "human being." The Latin suffix -ensis was added to rhodesi- (from the former country of Rhodesia in which the type specimen was found) to produce Homo rhodesiensis, meaning "man, or human being, from Rhodesia." Rhodesia itself was named for the diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes.
location of kabwe
Location of Kabwe

Interesting facts about other members of genus Homo:
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Homo heidelbergensis >>
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Homo floresiensis >>
Homo neanderthalensis>>

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