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Keywords:

  • mandible;
  • Pliocene;
  • hominid;
  • dentition;
  • Afar

Abstract

The Maka locality in Ethiopia's Middle Awash area has yielded new craniodental remains dated to 3.4 million years (myr) in age. These remains are described and assessed functionally and systematically. The fossils are assigned to Australopithecus afarensis. Maka thus joins Hadar and Laetoli as the third major locality yielding this species. As with previous site samples, the Maka collection displays a wide range of size variation. The nearly complete and undistorted MAK-VP-1/12 adult mandible from Maka is an excellent match for Hadar and Laetoli counterparts, confirming the geographic and temporal distribution of A. afarensis. This specimen shows that this taxon is functionally and developmentally hominid in its incisor/canine/premolar complex. A postulated evolutionary trajectory through A. anamensis to A. afarensis would have involved postcanine megadontia and other adaptations to a more heavily masticated diet relative to the earlier Ardipithecus ramidus. Am J Phys Anthropol 111:45–68, 2000. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.