Article

Early hominid dental remains from Members 4 and 5 of the Sterkfontein Formation (1966-1996 excavations): catalogue, individual associations, morphological descriptions and initial metrical analysis.

Laboratori di Antropologia, Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Università di Firenze via del Proconsolo, 12, 50122 Firenze, Italy.
Journal of Human Evolution (Impact Factor: 3.87). 04/2006; 50(3):239-328. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2005.08.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The fossils recovered from the Sterkfontein Formation represent, without doubt, the largest collection of early hominid specimens from a single locality. Among the over 600 entries in the catalogue of fossil hominid specimens recovered since 1966, there are 242 dental remains (isolated teeth, jaws with two or more teeth, isolated teeth in association) for a total number of 495 teeth. The aim of this paper is to provide morphological descriptions of all hominid dental specimens recovered between 1968 and 1996 from areas presently known as Members 4 and 5 of the Sterkfontein site. Together with the descriptions, explanatory catalogue information is provided, along with basic measurements and summary statistics. This paper consists of six sections, with descriptive tables: (1) Catalogue of dental remains, arranged numerically. This includes isolated teeth, specimens with teeth still in position within their jaws, and specimens comprised of isolated teeth in association. (2) List of specimens with more complete dentition and the numbers of available teeth per tooth class. (3) List of specimens subdivided in tooth class, with an indication of their preservation, of the wear, if any, and with measurements (mesiodistal and buccolingual diameters) of the individual teeth. (4) List of associations of isolated teeth as individuals i.e. dental remains that can be associated with one another. Some remarks on the relative abundance of maxillary versus mandibular teeth, and on the numbers of available teeth are presented. (5) Morphological descriptions. (6) Summary statistics for the entire Sterkfontein sample (thus including specimens recovered both before and after 1966) and updated descriptive statistics for South African early hominids (A. africanus, A. robustus, South African early Homo). We have compared the coefficients of variation for the MD and BL diameters of the permanent teeth of the Sterkfontein Member 4 hypodigm of A. africanus with the hypodigms of the early hominid taxa. The results show that the Sterkfontein Member 4 sample is not consistently more variable than the other fossil hominid samples analysed; it turned out to be generally less variable than H. habilis sensu lato and A. boisei; it shows overall similar levels of variability to A. afarensis and higher levels than A. robustus. These results, per se, do not provide evidence of the existence of multiple species in the Sterkfontein Member 4 sample.

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