Published in "Natural and Technical Sciences"
(Estestvennye i Tekhnicheskie Nauki, ISSN 1684-2626) 2003, Iss.1, pp.77-80 in Russian
Translation by the author

Estimation of alamas skull view

Dr.Michael Trachtengerts

When a unknown previously animal is discovered a problem appears to establish its nature and place in taxonomy. The animal described from photos made by A.Tishkov in Himalayas in 1991 rather strongly differs from well-known species. It certainly belongs to primate but not to any now acknowledged as existing. To correlate it and extinct species it is necessary to know skeleton structure of the animal investigated. Yet now there is neither alive nor prepared exemplar of alamas. In this research is made the attempt to solve a task, opposite to traditional - to receive with alamas head picture a possible form of its skull. The comparison of revealed skull with some fossil materials allows to put forward a hypothesis that there is morphological resemblance between Alamas alamas and Homo erectus.

Reconstruction

In previous publication [1] there was obtained the general view of head of the primate that lives in Himalayas. It was named [2] as alamas (Alamas alamas). The head was received as a result of processing of its photo images and is reproduced in Fig. 1A.

It allows to produce a preliminary form of its skull that is important to establish connections between alamas and living or extinct primates, to define a place for alamas in primate taxonomy. It is necessary to note, that usual task in archaeology is to restore external view of an animal on the basis of the found fossils. Here I try to solve a contrary task - to receive a picture of its skull having the view of the animal head. In this case it is also necessary to know or assume thickness of flesh covering skull.

The form of cranium face can be received precisely enough, since the muscles and skin covering the bones have small thickness and known locality. The top part of the cranium is well determined too, because the hair looks short and the covering flash has no significant thickness if no sagittal crest is supposed. The back of the cranium, the occipital region can not be contoured with assurance confidently, because the character of coverings in this place is unclear in the image. It may be hair falling back from the head or strong muscles. It seems impossible to make solid assumptions of their thickness. Some rough analogies between it and anthropoid skulls can help to represent this part of the cranium.

In view of the assumptions the contour of the alamas skull was received - Fig. 1B. The back of the skull is shown by broken lines as uncertain. With this contour the shaped figure of the probable alamas skull is submitted on a Fig. 1C.

Fig.1. A - lateral view of alamas head, B - contour of the skull, C - the probable form of alamas skull.

It has the following main features:

So I fully aware of the roughness of the received reconstruction it, to my mind, can be used for the purposes of comparison put at the beginning.

Contemporary species

In comparison with outlines of ape skulls (Fig. 2 A, B, C and D) alamas has the rather increased braincase and considerably reduced face. Obviously it is possible to conclude, that the alamas skull is close neither to any of known apes, nor to the human.

Earlier [1] it was shown, that the closest animal to alamas is the "wild man" of Central Asia ksy-gyik described by V.Khakhlov [4]. In his work Khakhlov also made a picture of a probable form of its skull, which is shown on Fig. 2 ┼.

The comparison of skull forms in figures 1┬ and 2┼ shows essential distinction in their structure. The braincase of alamas is much more extended to the back of the cranium and forehead is rather different. In face prognathism is expressed approximately to the same extent in both forms and outlines of mandibles are rather similar also.

Fig.2. The form of ape skulls [3]:

A - gorilla, B - chimpanzee, C - gibbon, D - orangutan, and ┼ - living in Central Asia unknown primate the "wild man" ksy-gyik, investigated by V.Khakhlov [4].

The fossil forms

I shall consider now fossil forms and first of all those found on territory of China relatively close to the Himalayan region. The wide collection of China fossil materials is submitted in the Web [5]. Photos and descriptions of fossil primate had helped to select together skulls having low and strongly oblique forehead and braincase, as possible objects for the comparative analysis. There were selected four such skull groups. Their names are kept the same as they are designated in [5]:

Yunxian3, 4 - two skulls, that were found in a province Hubey and are referred to early Middle Pleistocene;

Nanjing2, 3 - two incomplete skulls, province Jiangsu, Middle Pleistocene;

Lantian - incomplete skull, province Shaanxi, Early Pleistocene

Zhoukoudian, Locality1 - 12 fragments of a skull, municipality of Beijing (Pekin), Middle Pleistocene. The image of the restored skull is given.

These samples are divergent, the skulls appreciably differ one from the other by contours and forms of braincases, but all of them are recognized belonging to Homo erectus.

In Fig. 3 the received rough contour of alamas skull is compared with Yunxian3 skull, that is in good condition.

Fig. 3. A - contour of alamas skull, the back part of the skull is marked by interrupted line, as it is determined less precisely; C - skull Yunxian3; B - the matched lateral images of both skulls.

One can see that face parts of the fossil skull and alamas are in perfect agreement in form and proportion. There is remarkable concurrence of positions of ear canal openings that allows to indicate on probable similarity of the general head forms for both exemplars. In forehead and cranium areas the contours have different outlines, however these differences, apparently, do not exceed assumed limits of variations, as it can be noted on other mentioned fossils.

Without reproducing their images, it is possible to state the following.

Nanjing has massive brow ridge, behind which there is a lowering that separate it from low cranium. The nasal bone pointed similar to that of Yunxian3 and only one whole orbit is present. The general outlines of these fragments correspond to reconstruction of alamas skull too.

The available fragments of Lantian demonstrate unusually widely placed orbits and low skull. The deviations from alamas and other forms apparently emphasize more primitive exemplar.

On the contrary, Zhoukoudian in the reconstructed skull is higher and shows larger capacity.

Now I wish to pay attention to nasal bones that in all skulls and in alamas reconstruction are well-defined above the surface of bones in face. It is a distinguishing feature of human and practically absent among anthropoids. That flat surface (Fig. 2A to D) gives for ape nose form of a specific "inhuman" kind. The comparison gives reason to assume, that Homo erectus had the form of nose similar to that of alamas in Fig. 1A.

Conclusion

Estimating the made comparisons, it is necessary to mind probable errors in the form of alamas skull and such inherent primate features as large individual variability and possible sexual dimorphism. We do not know sex of the photographed exemplar of alamas. The judgement should be made in absence of data sets in quantities accepted in anthropology, and there is no hope to receive them ever in view of insignificant number of the species.

With the situation in mind, on my view, it is possible to put forward a hypothesis that existing now on Himalayas primate Alamas alamas is a non extinct or related form of Homo erectus.

To check this hypothesis a consequence of it could be explored. The possible test which is not established yet and requires a separate research may be the following. Early it was mentioned [1,2] that alamas and ksy-gyik often stay on knees, and the pose does not used by primates with obvious exception for the human. So, if any signs of such pose would be found on fossil shins of Homo erectus it can be a support for the hypothesis.

Citations

1. Trachtengerts M.S. Reconstruction of a general view of alamas head. Natural and engineering science, ╣3, 2002, page 38-42. (in Russian)

2. Trachtengerts M.S. Unknown primate of Himalayas. The integrated scientific journal, ╣20 (43), 2002, page 30-35.

3. Zhedenov V.N. Comparative anatomy of primates. Higher school Publ., ╠oscow, 1962

4. Khakhlov V.A. About "wild man" in Central Asia (Research of 1907-1917). In the issue: Information materials of the Commission for study of "snow man". Release 4. Editors B.F.Porshnev and A.A.Shmakov. Moscow, Academy of sciencies USSR, 1959, pp. 13 - 89. (In Russian)

5. The Internet: http://www.chineseprehistory.org//index.htm

Ó M.S.Trachtengerts 2002