Video: Scientists Examine Skulls to Aid New Fossil Identification

Steve Churchill, post-cranial specialist on the Rising Star Expedition shows off the hominid skull replicas in the Science tent, and explains how the team uses them to help identify the skull pieces emerging from the cave below.

In South Africa, three hominid genera have been discovered to date: Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Homo.

By having casts of known specimens on hand, whenever a fossil piece puzzles the experts, or whenever they think it might match one of these species, they get out the casts and compare.

With resin or plaster casts in one hand, and actual hominid remains on the table before them (or vice versa) there is one species that is clearly identifiable in the tent.

This is Homo sapiens, “the thinking man,” at work. Curiosity, memory, and communication are all on display. Deep below, our more physical skills are needed. Together, a human community is doing what no one of them could do alone.

Another hallmark of Homo sapiens.


See More Videos and Read All Blog Posts From the Rising Star Expedition


  1. bill dail
    new mexico
    November 26, 2013, 6:08 pm

    Dr. Churchill (Steve)

    Your New Mexico fans are on edge! Great hunting!

    bill dail

  2. Dan Jim Selassie
    Accra, Ghana
    November 14, 2013, 12:28 pm

    I love the National Geographic site!