Research Article

The Upper Limb of Australopithecus sediba

Science  12 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6129,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233477

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Abstract

The evolution of the human upper limb involved a change in function from its use for both locomotion and prehension (as in apes) to a predominantly prehensile and manipulative role. Well-preserved forelimb remains of 1.98-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba from Malapa, South Africa, contribute to our understanding of this evolutionary transition. Whereas other aspects of their postcranial anatomy evince mosaic combinations of primitive (australopith-like) and derived (Homo-like) features, the upper limbs (excluding the hand and wrist) of the Malapa hominins are predominantly primitive and suggest the retention of substantial climbing and suspensory ability. The use of the forelimb primarily for prehension and manipulation appears to arise later, likely with the emergence of Homo erectus.

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