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Mandibular Remains Support Taxonomic Validity of Australopithecus sediba

Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232997

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Abstract

Since the announcement of the species Australopithecus sediba, questions have been raised over whether the Malapa fossils represent a valid taxon or whether inadequate allowance was made for intraspecific variation, in particular with reference to the temporally and geographically proximate species Au. africanus. The morphology of mandibular remains of Au. sediba, including newly recovered material discussed here, shows that it is not merely a late-surviving morph of Au. africanus. Rather—as is seen elsewhere in the cranium, dentition, and postcranial skeleton—these mandibular remains share similarities with other australopiths but can be differentiated from the hypodigm of Au. africanus in both size and shape as well as in their ontogenetic growth trajectory.

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