JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Phylogeny of early Australopithecus: new fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille (central Afar, Ethiopia)

Yohannes Haile-Selassie
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 2010 October 27, 365 (1556): 3323-31
20855306
The earliest evidence of Australopithecus goes back to ca 4.2 Ma with the first recorded appearance of Australopithecus 'anamensis' at Kanapoi, Kenya. Australopithecus afarensis is well documented between 3.6 and 3.0 Ma mainly from deposits at Laetoli (Tanzania) and Hadar (Ethiopia). The phylogenetic relationship of these two 'species' is hypothesized as ancestor-descendant. However, the lack of fossil evidence from the time between 3.6 and 3.9 Ma has been one of its weakest points. Recent fieldwork in the Woranso-Mille study area in the Afar region of Ethiopia has yielded fossil hominids dated between 3.6 and 3.8 Ma. These new fossils play a significant role in testing the proposed relationship between Au. anamensis and Au. afarensis. The Woranso-Mille hominids (3.6-3.8 Ma) show a mosaic of primitive, predominantly Au. anamensis-like, and some derived (Au. afarensis-like) dentognathic features. Furthermore, they show that, as currently known, there are no discrete and functionally significant anatomical differences between Au. anamensis and Au. afarensis. Based on the currently available evidence, it appears that there is no compelling evidence to falsify the hypothesis of 'chronospecies pair' or ancestor-descendant relationship between Au. anamensis and Au. afarensis. Most importantly, however, the temporally and morphologically intermediate Woranso-Mille hominids indicate that the species names Au. afarensis and Au. anamensis do not refer to two real species, but rather to earlier and later representatives of a single phyletically evolving lineage. However, if retaining these two names is necessary for communication purposes, the Woranso-Mille hominids are best referred to as Au. anamensis based on new dentognathic evidence.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article

Discussion

You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read
20855306
×

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.

×

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"