Brief communication: Predatory bird damage to the Taung type-skull of Australopithecus africanus Dart 1925

Authors

  • Lee R. Berger

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Human Evolution, Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontology, School of GeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, 2050, South Africa
    • Institute for Human Evolution, Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontology, School of GeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, 2050, South Africa
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Abstract

In this issue of the Journal, McGraw et al. ([2006] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 000:00–00) present new data on the taphonomic signature of bone assemblages accumulated by crowned hawk eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus), including characteristic talon damage to the inferior orbits of primates preyed upon by these birds. Reexamination of the Taung juvenile hominin specimen (the type specimen of Australopithecus africanus Dart 1925) reveals previously undescribed damage to the orbital floors that is nearly identical to that seen in the crania of monkeys preyed upon by crowned hawk eagles (as reported by McGraw et al., this issue). This new evidence, along with previously described aspects of the nonhominin bone assemblage from Taung and damage to the neurocranium of the hominin specimen itself, strongly supports the hypothesis that a bird of prey was an accumulating agent at Taung, and that the Taung child itself was the victim of a bird of prey. Am J Phys Anthropol 131:166–168, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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