KNM-WT 15000

KNM-WT 15000
Exhibit item
Nickname: 
Turkana Boy
Site: 
Nariokotome, West Turkana, Kenya
Date of discovery: 
1984
Discovered by: 
Kamoya Kimeu
Age: 
About 1.6 million years ago
Species: 
Homo erectus

The strapping youth

The ‘Turkana Boy’ skeleton has allowed scientists to find out a lot of information about body size, body shape, and growth rates of Homo erectus. Using bilateral symmetry to fill in missing bone (e.g., the missing left upper arm bone can be reconstructed as the mirror image of the right upper arm bone), his skeleton is over 90% complete.

The size and shape of the pelvis shows he was male, and his teeth tell he was eight or nine years old. He was 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in) tall and weighed 48 kg (106 lb) when he died; if he had reached adulthood, he might have grown to nearly 1.85 m (6 ft). Turkana Boy’s cranial capacity at death was 880 cubic centimeters, but scientists estimate it would have reached 909 cubic centimeters if he had grown into adulthood. There is evidence that he was growing up at a rate similar to modern humans, and he may have undergone an adolescent growth spurt characteristic of modern teenage boys. His cause of death at such a young age is unknown.

His long and slender body is evidence of an early human adaptation to the hot, dry climate of Africa. His long legs and narrow pelvis helped him walk farther, increasing his home range, and maybe even run long distances.

Image of skeleton, front view, WT 15000