Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Primate Skull Found In Texas, But Which Primate?

A plumber from North Dallas, Texas found a primate skull while working on construction project outside of a school. The skull was found buried about five feet underground. Measuring six inches from front to back and two inches wide, most of its teeth are still intact including two one-inch canines. “We all know it’s a primate,” said David Evans, 25, of Alvarado. “We just don’t know which kind.”

A noted anthropologist for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office, Dr. Dana Austin, viewed photographs of the skull and said it was definitely an “old-world primate,” possibly a monkey or chimp.

Read the article from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, It's a Skull, But What Kind?

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video

In an effort to do my professors justice (yes ... Dr. Larissa Swedell and Dr. Sara Stinson), I am going to attempt to identify said skull. But before that ... am I the only one that cringes every time some says "Old World primates"? It's Old World monkeys! Monkeys!

OK ... from the video and pictures, it seems to either be a chimp or a baboon. What differentiate a chimp and a baboon based on dental morphology is that chimps have Y-5 molars pattern while baboons have a bilophodont pattern. Judging from the video, around 0:15 mins. it seems that the upper molars have a bilophodont teeth. The sagittal crest also seem to connect to the brow ridge like an upside down Y. My guess is that this skull belongs to a baboon, a hamadryas baboon to be exact. Because canine size is sexually dimorphic in hamadryas baboon, this skull probably belongs to a male.

What do you think?


zacharoo said...

I don't have a lot of experience with things beyond other than hominoids, but I think it definitely looks papionin. Something about the face calls mangabeys to mind, but I could be (and probably am) wrong. So anyway, I'll put my money on mangabey. What's a better question is why someone would bury a baboon cranium behind a school?

Oh, and congratulations on graduating with honors--keep up the hard work!

Raymond Ho said...

Thanks Zacharoo!