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Keywords:

  • Paranthropus boisei;
  • mandible;
  • bootstrapping;
  • intraspecific variation

Abstract

The craniodental hypodigm of Paranthropus boisei sensu stricto is morphologically distinctive, but it has been suggested that the substantial variation in mandibular and dental size in that hypodigm may exceed that which is reasonable to subsume within a single hominin species. In this study, Fligner and Killeen, coefficient of variation (CV)-based and average taxonomic distance (ATD)-based bootstrap tests, were used to compare variation in size and shape of the mandibular corpus remains attributed to P. boisei s.s. with the variation observed in samples of great apes and modern humans. The degree of size variation in the P. boisei s.s. mandibular hypodigm is never observed in human and chimpanzee samples, is rare in gorillas, but is not uncommon in orangutans. However, the shape variation in the fossil group is comparable to the variation in the extant reference groups. Although the size variation in P. boisei s.s. is substantial, it is exaggerated by the effects of taphonomy. The small mandibles are more often abraded, whereas the large mandibles are more likely to have been infiltrated with matrix. On the basis of the results of this investigation of the mandibular corpus, there are no grounds for rejecting the “single-species” hypothesis for P. boisei s.s. When Sokal and Braumann's adjusted CV values were used to predict the index of sexual dimorphism (ISD) for the P. boisei s.s., despite the substantial geological time embraced by the mandibular corpus hypodigm, the predicted value of lnISD, when corrected for taphonomic factors, is comparable to the sexual dimorphism observed within Gorilla. Am J Phys Anthropol 115:167–178, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.