The apportionment of tooth size and its implications in Australopithecus sediba versus other Plio-pleistocene and recent African hominins. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: Australopithecus sediba is characterized further by providing formerly unpublished and refined mesiodistal and buccolingual crown measurements in the MH1 and MH2 specimens. After size correction, these data were compared with those in other fossil and recent samples to facilitate additional insight into diachronic hominin affinities. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Six comparative samples consist of fossil species: A. africanus, A. afarensis, Homo habilis, Paranthropus robustus, P. boisei, and H. erectus. Others comprise H. sapiens and Pan troglodytes. Re-estimates of "actual" dimensions in damaged A. sediba teeth were effected through repeated measurements by independent observers. X-ray synchrotron microtomography allowed measurement of crowns obscured by matrix and noneruption. Tooth size apportionment analysis, an established technique for intraspecific comparisons, was then applied at this interspecific level to assess phenetic affinities using both within- and among-group data. RESULTS: Comparison of these highly heritable dimensions identified a general trend for smaller posterior relative to larger anterior teeth (not including canines), contra Paranthropus, that allies A. sediba with other australopiths and Homo; however, specific reductions and/or shape variation in the species' canines, third premolars, and anterior molars relative to the other teeth mirror the patterning characteristic of Homo. DISCUSSSION: Of all samples, including east African australopiths, A. sediba appears most like H. habilis, H. erectus and H. sapiens regarding how crown size is apportioned along the tooth rows. These findings parallel those in prior studies of dental and other skeletal data, including several that suggest A. sediba is a close relative of, if not ancestral to, Homo.

published proceedings

  • Am J Phys Anthropol

altmetric score

  • 25.264

author list (cited authors)

  • Irish, J. D., Hemphill, B. E., de Ruiter, D. J., & Berger, L. R.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Irish, Joel D||Hemphill, Brian E||de Ruiter, Darryl J||Berger, Lee R

publication date

  • November 2016