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Content created 101005, revised 110924
File last modified: 150913
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Australopithecus africanus &
Australopithecus sediba

Australopithecus africanus

Most Famous Specimens:
Taung Child (South Africa).
Location:
South Africa.
Most Famous Sites:
Sterkfontein, Makapansgat, Taung (all in South Africa).
Time Range:
3.5 to 2.5 mya.
Size:
33 - 68 kg.
Cranial Capacity:
450 cc.
Cranial Features:
Very similar overall to Au. afarensis, with more anterior facial buttressing (thicker face bones). Large incisors compared with molars. Thick-enameled molars and premolars.
Postcranial Features:
Similar to Au. afarensis, as far as is known.
Habitats:
Open savannah habitats.
Wikipedia link

photo

Australopithecus africanus from Sterkfontein
(LA Museum of Natural History)


photo

Plaster hand holding up model of infant Australopithecus (based on the Taung Child)
(Hunterian Museum, Glasgow)



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Australopithecus sediba

photo
The Now Famous Au. sediba Endocast
(The yellow portion is a computer-generated mirror image of the other side to fill in missing material. The green portion is the computer-generated endocast, reconstructing the brain surface from the shape of the inside of the skull.)
(Science, vol 333:1371)


Most Famous Specimens:
Karabo Skull
Location:
Southern Africa
Most Famous Sites:
Malapa Fossil Site (South Africa)
Time Range:
Approximately 2 mya.
Cranial Capacity:
420 cc.
Cranial Features:
Particularly well preserved cranial material made possible a computer simulation of an endocast. Excavators argue that the brain so revealed is more Homo-like than other Australopithecus brains.
Postcranial Features:
Bones of a long arm suggest arboreal locomotion but the hand dsiplays relatively short fingers. A long thumb, suggests a precision grip. A very small heel bone suggests relatively unimportant bipedalism.
Pelvis is less "flaring" than Au. africanus or afarensis
Special Note:
The find includes remains of what seem to be four individuals, and collectively they allow good reconstruction of several important body areas, including the hand, pelvis, foot, and skull.
The location and date of these specimens allow the hypothesis that they are a population derivative from Au. africanus.
Because of the grip and the brain morphology, the excavator is inclined to regard Au. sediba as a more likely ancestral species for modern Homo than Au. afarensis is. Other researchers suggest that the foot of this species seems to be moving toward a different adaptation to bipedalism from what is shared by Au. afarensis and later Homo forms.
Wikipedia link


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