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Keywords:

  • Basicranium;
  • Hominids;
  • Systematics

Abstract

The results of a metrical analysis of the basicranium of 19 Plio-Pleistocene fossil hominid crania are presented. The sample includes crania attributed to Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus boisei, and robustus, and Homo erectus as well as crania whose attribution is still under discussion. These results confirm significant differences between the cranial base patterns of the “gracile” and “robust” australopithecines and the three crania attributed to Homo erectus have a pattern which resembles that of modern humans. None of the crania examined from East Africa sites have base patterns which resemble that of the “gracile” australopithecines. The crania KNM-ER 407 and 732 have patterns which are compatible with them being smaller-bodied females of Australopithecus boisei; KNM-ER 1470 and 1813 have base patterns which most closely resemble that of Homo erectus. The cranial base pattern of KNM-ER 1805 is compatible with its inclusion in either Australopithecus boisei or Homo. When account is taken of the immaturity of Taung, the evidence of its cranial base pattern suggests that if it had reached adulthood it would have resembled the “gracile” australopithecine crania from Sterkfontein and Makapansgat.