The Boskop Man is an anatomically modern human fossil of the Middle Stone Age (Late Pleistocene) discovered in 1913 in South Africa.[1] The fossil was at first described as Homo capensis and considered a separate human species by Broom (1918),[2] but by the 1970s this "Boskopoid" type was widely recognized as representative of the modern Khoisan populations.[3]


Most theories regarding a "Boskopoid" type were based on the eponymous Boskop cranium, which was found in 1913 by two Afrikaner farmers. They offered it to Frederick William FitzSimons for examination and further research. Many similar skulls were subsequently discovered by paleontologists such as Robert Broom, William Pycraft and Raymond Dart.

The original skull was incomplete consisting of frontal and parietal bones, with a partial occiput, one temporal and a fragment of mandible.

Fossils of similar type are known from Tsitsikamma (1921), Matjes River (1934), Fish Hoek and Springbok Flats,[4]Skhul, Qazeh, Border Cave, Brno, Tuinplaas, and other locations.[5]

Cranial capacityEdit

The Boskop Man fossils are notable for their unusually large cranial capacities, with reported cranial-capacity ranges between 1,700 and 2,000 cm3.[6]

This was addressed in the book Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence (2008) by neurologists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger, who claimed the large brain size in Boskop individuals might be indicative of particularly high general intelligence. Anthropologist John Hawks harshly criticized the depiction of the Boskop fossils in the book and in the book's review article in Discover magazine.[6][7][8]

Dubious photo of Boskopoid skull

Fraudulent photographEdit

An image has circulated across the Internet which is purported to be of a Boskopoid skull. However, this image in actuality depicts the skull of a hydrocephalus patient.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Ian Tattersall, The Human Fossil Record, Craniodental Morphology of Genus Homo (Africa and Asia) (2005), p. 40.
  2. ^ FitzSimons, FW (1915). "Palaeolithic man in South Africa". Nature. 95 (2388): 615–616. Bibcode:1915Natur..95..615F. doi:10.1038/095615c0. S2CID 3955081. Haughton S, Thomson RB, Peringuey L (1917). "Preliminary note on the ancient human skull remains from the Transvaal". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 6: 1–14. doi:10.1080/00359191709520168. Broom, R (1918). "The Evidence Afforded by the Boskop Skull of a New Species of Primitive Man (Homo capensis)". Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History. 23: 65–79. Dart, R (1923). "Boskop remains from the south-east African coast". Nature. 112 (2817): 623–625. Bibcode:1923Natur.112..623D. doi:10.1038/112623a0. Dart, R (1940). "Recent discoveries bearing on human history in southern Africa". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 70 (1): 13–27. doi:10.2307/2844198. JSTOR 2844198.
  3. ^ formerly called Hottentots and Bushmen: " isolated cranial fragment found 40 years ago near the surface in a dubious geological horizon, unassociated with implements and fauna, ... there has been developed conjecture after conjecture, speculation on speculation ... the features exhibited by the Boskop skull and those which have been termed 'Boskopoid' are not specific to any 'new' single, African racial group, and in Africa they may be found in varying degrees in the Bushmen, Hottentots or Bush-Hottentot admixtures." Singer R. 1958. The Boskop 'Race' Problem. Man. 58:173-178. JSTOR 2795854. Tobias (1985): "Galloway (1937) [...] elevated Boskop to a “fundamental human racial strain.” However, the research of L.H. Wells (1950, 1952, 1969); Ronald Singer (1958[)...] Tobias (1959, 1961); Don Brothwell (1963[)...] Hertha de Villiers (1963, 1968) [...] and G. Philip Rightmire (1970, 1971, 1972, 1976, 1978) [...] undermined this concept and may be considered to have given the quietus to it."
  4. ^ Galloway, A (1937). "The Characteristics of the Skull of the Boskop Physical Type". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 23: 31–47. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330230105.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Jeffrey H.; Tattersall, Ian; Holloway, Ralph L.; Broadfield, Douglas C.; Yuan, Michael S. (2003). The Human Fossil Record. ISBN 978-0-471-67864-9.
  6. ^ a b "The skull is a large one, with an estimated endocranial volume of 1800 ml. But it is hardly complete, and arguments about its overall size -- exacerbated by its thickness, which confuses estimates based on regression from external measurements -- have ranged from 1700 to 2000 ml. It is large, but well within the range of sizes found in recent males." The "amazing" Boskops Return of the "amazing" Boskops "The portrayal of 'Boskops' in the Discover excerpt is so out of line with anthropology of the last forty years, that I am amazed the magazine printed it. I am unaware of any credible biological anthropologist or archaeologist who would confirm their description of the 'Boskopoids,' except as an obsolete category from the history of anthropology." He does note that the web editor at Discover replied that "the excerpt was intended to run identified as a 'controversial idea, but that context didn't come across as intended.'", and that "[t]he web page has been changed to make that context clear".
  7. ^ Gary Lynch, Richard Granger, What Happened to the Hominids Who Were Smarter Than Us? (excerpt from Big Brain 2008), Discover, 28 December 2009.
  8. ^ "What Happened to the Hominids Who May Have Been Smarter Than Us?". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 2021-08-16.
  9. ^ A Study of the Relations of the Brain to the Size of the Head Biometrika Volume 4
  • Pycraft, W (1925). "On the Calvaria Found at Boskop, Transvaal, in 1913, and Its Relationship to Cromagnard and Negroid Skulls". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 55: 179–198. doi:10.2307/2843700. JSTOR 2843700.
  • Tobias, P.V. (1959) "The history and metamorphosis of the Boskop concept" in: Galloway (ed.), The Skeletal Remains of Bambandyanalo, 137–146.
  • Tobias, P (1985). "History of Physical Anthropology in Southern Africa". Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. 28: 1–52 (p. 14). doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330280503.