The Maka femur and its bearing on the antiquity of human walking: Applying contemporary concepts of morphogenesis to the human fossil record

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Abstract

MAK-VP-1/1, a proximal femur recovered from the Maka Sands (ca. 3.4 mya) of the Middle Awash, Ethiopia, and attributed to Australopithecus afarensis, is described in detail. It represents the oldest skeletal evidence of locomotion in this species, and is analyzed from a morphogenetic perspective. X-ray, CT, and metric data are evaluated, using a variety of methods including discriminant function. The specimen indicates that the hip joint of A. afarensis was remarkably like that of modern humans, and that the dramatic muscle allocation shifts which distinguish living humans and African apes were already present in a highly derived form in this species. Its anatomy provides no indication of any form of locomotion save habitual terrestrial bipedality, which very probably differed only trivially from that of modern humans. Am J Phys Anthropol 119:97–133, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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