First evidence of a bipartite medial cuneiform in the hominin fossil record: a case report from the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi

Authors


Dr Tea Jashashvili, Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland. T: +41446355441; F: +41446356886; E: tjashashvili@aim.uzh.ch

Abstract

A medial cuneiform exhibiting complete bipartition was discovered at the Early Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. The specimen is the oldest known instance of this anatomical variant in the hominin fossil record. Here we compare developmental variation of the medial cuneiform in fossil hominins, extant humans and great apes, and discuss potential implications of bipartition for hominin foot phylogeny and function. Complete bipartition is rare among modern humans (< 1%); incomplete bipartition was found in 2 of 200 examined great ape specimens and also appears in the form of a divided distal articular surface in the Stw573c Australopithecus africanus specimen. Although various developmental pathways lead to medial cuneiform bipartition, it appears that the bipartite bone does not deviate significantly from normal overall morphology. Together, these data indicate that bipartition represents a phyletically old developmental variant of the medial cuneiform, which does not, however, affect the species-specific morphology and function of this bone.

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