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Keywords:

  • cranial base;
  • evolution;
  • hominin

Abstract

The base of the cranium (i.e. the basioccipital, the sphenoid and the temporal bones) is of particular interest because it undergoes significant morphological change within the hominin clade, and because basicranial morphology features in several hominin species diagnoses. We use a parsimony analysis of published cranial and dental data to predict the cranial base morphology expected in the hypothetical last common ancestor of the Pan–Homo clade. We also predict the primitive condition of the cranial base for the hominin clade, and document the evolution of the cranial base within the major subclades within the hominin clade. This analysis suggests that cranial base morphology has continued to evolve in the hominin clade, both before and after the emergence of the genus Homo.