Research Article

The Ardipithecus ramidus Skull and Its Implications for Hominid Origins

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 68-68e7
DOI: 10.1126/science.1175825

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Abstract

The highly fragmented and distorted skull of the adult skeleton ARA-VP-6/500 includes most of the dentition and preserves substantial parts of the face, vault, and base. Anatomical comparisons and micro–computed tomography–based analysis of this and other remains reveal pre-Australopithecus hominid craniofacial morphology and structure. The Ardipithecus ramidus skull exhibits a small endocranial capacity (300 to 350 cubic centimeters), small cranial size relative to body size, considerable midfacial projection, and a lack of modern African ape–like extreme lower facial prognathism. Its short posterior cranial base differs from that of both Pan troglodytes and P. paniscus. Ar. ramidus lacks the broad, anteriorly situated zygomaxillary facial skeleton developed in later Australopithecus. This combination of features is apparently shared by Sahelanthropus, showing that the Mio-Pliocene hominid cranium differed substantially from those of both extant apes and Australopithecus.

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