Technical note: The midline and endocranial volume of the Taung endocast

Ralph L. Holloway, Douglas C. Broadfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Taung endocast is one of the best-preserved and most important known in paleoanthropology. Although the endocast is undistorted and preserves distinctive landmarks, Taung has proved a difficult endocast, because it is only about 60% complete. To reconstruct Taung it is necessary to first use the available anatomical landmarks to define the midline of the endocast. It is only with a proper description of the midline that it is possible to reconstruct the endocast and obtain an accurate measurement of Taung's endocranial volume. Holloway (Science 168 (1970) 966-968) determined a conservative estimate for Taung of 404 ml. More recently this estimate has been revised downward by Falk and Clarke (Am J Phys Anthropol 134 (2007) 529-534) to 382 ml, giving Taung the smallest endocast for A. africanus. Certain challenges exist with the reconstruction of any endocast, particularly a hemi-endocast such as Taung. A virtual reconstruction of Taung must assume perfect symmetry, a feature called into question here in Taung's most recent reconstruction by Falk and Clarke (2007). Holloway's (1970) reconstruction of Taung provides a guidepost for a conservative approach to endocast reconstructions, and the most reliable measurement of Taung's true endocranial volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-322
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Taung
  • brain evolution
  • endocast
  • midsagittal plane
  • symmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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