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Evidence for habitual climbing in a Pleistocene hominin in South Africa

Georgiou, L, Dunmore, C, Bardo, A, Buck, LT, Hublin, J-J, Pahr, D, Stratford, D, Synek, A, Kivell, T and Skinner, M (2020) Evidence for habitual climbing in a Pleistocene hominin in South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ISSN 0027-8424

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Abstract

Bipedalism is a defining trait of the hominin lineage, associated with a transition from a more arboreal to a more terrestrial environment. While there is debate about when modern human-like bipedalism first appeared in hominins, all known South African hominins show morphological adaptations to bipedalism, suggesting that this was their predominant mode of locomotion. Here we present evidence that hominins preserved in the Sterkfontein Caves practiced two different locomotor repertoires. The trabecular structure of a proximal femur (StW 522) attributed to Australopithecus africanus exhibits a modern human-like bipedal locomotor pattern, while that of a geologically younger specimen (StW 311) attributed to either Homo sp. or Paranthropus robustus exhibits a pattern more similar to nonhuman apes, potentially suggesting regular bouts of both climbing and terrestrial bipedalism. Our results demonstrate distinct morphological differences, linked to behavioral differences between Australopithecus and later hominins in South Africa and contribute to the increasing evidence of locomotor diversity within the hominin clade.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2020 09:16
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2020 09:16
DOI or Identification number: 10.1073/pnas.1914481117
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12619

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