The Late Pleistocene fossil human remains (individuals I-IV) of Minatogawa, Okinawa Island are important in addressing the population history of the Japanese archipelago and in understanding evolution of Homo sapiens in eastern Asia. This study is the first on Minatogawa I's endocranial morphology, based on micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). We digitally reconstructed the Minatogawa I endocast, and created its physical model using a three-dimensional printer system. We compared the Minatogawa I endocast with available H. sapiens and archaic Homo endocasts. We found that Minatogawa I exhibits key derived endocranial features of H. sapiens, such as a highly elevated parietal, endocranial widening confined to a relatively anterior position, and a narrow internal occipital crest. The short, wide, and low proportioned Minatogawa I endocranium lies metrically at the margins of the modern human ranges of variation of this study. The Minatogawa I endocast exhibits a slightly underdeveloped frontal region with marked parasagittal ridges, a weak endocranial parietal boss, and a strong temporal bulge. It differs from Liujiang in the strong expression of these features as well as in overall metric proportions. A weak endocranial parietal boss and a strong temporal bulge are shared by Skhul V and Qafzeh 9, and may represent a primitive condition for H. sapiens in general.
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