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Dental Morphology and the Phylogenetic “Place” of Australopithecus sediba

Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233062

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Abstract

To characterize further the Australopithecus sediba hypodigm, we describe 22 dental traits in specimens MH1 and MH2. Like other skeletal elements, the teeth present a mosaic of primitive and derived features. The new nonmetric data are then qualitatively and phenetically compared with those in eight other African hominin samples, before cladistic analyses using a gorilla outgroup. There is some distinction, largely driven by contrasting molar traits, from East African australopiths. However, Au. sediba links with Au. africanus to form a South African australopith clade. These species present five apomorphies, including shared expressions of Carabelli’s upper first molar (UM1) and protostylid lower first molar (LM1). Five synapomorphies are also evident between them and monophyletic Homo habilis/rudolfensis + H. erectus. Finally, a South African australopith + Homo clade is supported by four shared derived states, including identical LM1 cusp 7 expression.

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