Body size and body shape in early hominins - implications of the Gona pelvis.

Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
Journal of Human Evolution (Impact Factor: 4.09). 11/2009; 58(2):166-78. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2009.10.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Discovery of the first complete Early Pleistocene hominin pelvis, Gona BSN49/P27, attributed to Homo erectus, raises a number of issues regarding early hominin body size and shape variation. Here, acetabular breadth, femoral head breadth, and body mass calculated from femoral head breadth are compared in 37 early hominin (6.0-0.26 Ma) specimens, including BSN49/P27. Acetabular and estimated femoral head sizes in the Gona specimen fall close to the means for non-Homo specimens (Orrorin tugenesis, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus), and well below the ranges of all previously described Early and Middle Pleistocene Homo specimens. The Gona specimen has an estimated body mass of 33.2kg, close to the mean for the non-Homo sample (34.1kg, range 24-51.5kg, n=19) and far outside the range for any previously known Homo specimen (mean=70.5kg; range 52-82kg, n=17). Inclusion of the Gona specimen within H. erectus increases inferred sexual dimorphism in body mass in this taxon to a level greater than that observed here for any other hominin taxon, and increases variation in body mass within H. erectus females to a level much greater than that observed for any living primate species. This raises questions regarding the taxonomic attribution of the Gona specimen. When considered within the context of overall variation in body breadth among early hominins, the mediolaterally very wide Gona pelvis fits within the distribution of other lower latitude Early and Middle Pleistocene specimens, and below that of higher latitude specimens. Thus, ecogeographic variation in body breadth was present among earlier hominins as it is in living humans. The increased M-L pelvic breadth in all earlier hominins relative to modern humans is related to an increase in ellipticity of the birth canal, possibly as a result of a non-rotational birth mechanism that was common to both australopithecines and archaic Homo.

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