Extracting Secrets from the Jaws of Pleistocene Hominins

Check out GSU Anthropology Professor Frank L’Engle Williams‘ recently published research:

Williams, F., Schroeder, L., & Ackermann, R. (2012). The mid-face of lower Pleistocene hominins and its bearing on the attribution of SK 847 and StW 53. HOMO – Journal Of Comparative Human Biology, 63(4), 245-257.

GSU Anthropology Professor Frank L'Engle Williams

GSU Anthropology Professor Frank L'Engle Williams


SK 847 and StW 53 have often been cited as evidence for early Homo in South Africa. To examine whether midfacial morphology is in agreement with these attributions, we analyze Euclidean distances calculated from 3-D coordinates on the maxillae of SK 847 and StW 53, as well as Australopithecus africanus (Sts 5, Sts 71), Paranthropus robustus (SK 46, SK 48, SK 52, SK 83), early Homo (KNM-ER 1813, KNM-ER 1805, KNM-ER 3733, KNM-WT 15000), P. boisei (KNM-ER 406, KNM-WT 17000, KNM-WT 17400), Gorilla gorilla (n = 116), Homo sapiens (n = 342), Pan paniscus (n = 21) and P. troglodytes (n = 65).  Multivariate analyses separate extant hominoids suggesting we have captured taxonomic affinity. With the exception of SK 847 and SK 52, South African fossils tend to cluster together. P. robustus differs substantially from East African robust megadonts. SK 847 and StW 53 resemble the East African Homo specimens that are the most australopith-like, such as KNM-WT 15000 and KNM-ER 1813. The resemblance between StW 53 and Homo is driven partly by similarities in maxillary size. When distances are scaled, StW 53 aligns with A. africanus, while SK 847 clusters primarily with early Homo.

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