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Kabwe 1

Image of Kabwe skull, 3/4 view
Kabwe 1
Exhibit Item
Nickname: Rhodesian Man
Site: Kabwe, Zambia
Year of Discovery: 1921
Discovered by: Tom Zwiglaar
Age: Between 324,000 and 274,000 years old

Searching for metal ore deposits in the limestone caves of Kabwe, Zambia, Swiss miner Tom Zwiglaar  is credited with finding the first early human fossil ever to be discovered in Africa. When Kabwe (also known as Broken Hill) was sent to Arthur Smith Woodward, Woodward assigned the specimen to a new species: Homo rhodesiensis. Today, most scientists assign Kabwe to Homo heidelbergensis.

Kabwe shows features similar to H. erectus such as a low braincase profile (the area towards the back of the skull), large brow ridges, a slight widening of the midface known as the sagittal keel, and a protrusion at the back of the skull named the occipital torus. But Kabwe also resembles modern humans with a flatter, less prognathic face, and larger brain (1300 cubic centimeters).

This skull is one of the oldest known to have tooth cavities. They occur in 10 of the upper teeth.  The individual may have died from an infection related to dental disease or from a chronic ear infection.

Page last updated: April 3, 2020