D I A G N O S T I C F E AT U R E S

postcranial
affinities w/ austrolopiths

• small body size • relatively long upper limbs w/ large joint surfaces • lower limbs w/ “primitive” chars

cranio-dental
• • • • • • • • small cranial capacity pronounced glabelar region patent premaxillary suture • moderate canine jugum w/ • canine fossa • small anterior nasal spine steeply-inclined zygomaticoalveolar crest high masseter origin moderate development of msial marginal redige of maxillary central incisor relatively closely-spaced premolar and molar cusps

cranial vault facial skeleton mandible dentition

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similar to A. africanus

Australopithecus sediba
Timespan: Region: Specimens: Discovered: 1.95 – 1.78 mya South Africa 2 individuals Berger 2010 Holotype: Lineage: Environment: Diet: MH1 Unknown Grassy plains transected by wooded valleys Unknown

cranium
but similar to Homo

• small but relatively transversely expanded, with vertically-oriented parietal walls and widely spaced temporal lines • lacks pronounced flaring zygomatics • arrangement of supraorbital torus, naso-alveolar region, infraorbital region, and zygomatics • mandibular synthesis = vertically-oriented • slight bony chin • weak post-incisive planum

dentition
• weakly-defined buccal grooves of maxillary premolars • weakly-defined median lingual ridge of mandibular canine • small absolute size of post-canine dentition postcranial • increased buttressing of ilium, expansion of posterior portion • reduced distance btwn sacroiliac and hip joints • reduced distance btwn acetabulum to ischial tuberosity

Speculation/theories:
• • potential ancestor of Homo (via H. habilis or H. rudolfensis) likely descendent of A. africanus

KEY SPECIMENS
• MH1, “Karabo”: juvenile male – partial cranium (UW288-50), fragmented mandible, partial postcranial • MH2 (adult female): isolated maxillary teeth, partial mandible, partial postcranial

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Balter, M., (2010) Candidate human ancestor from South Africa sparks praise and debate, Science: 328, 154-155. Berger, L., et al (2010). Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa, Science: 328 (5975), 195-20. Carlson, Kristian J., et al (2011) The Endocast of MH1, Australopithecus sediba, Science: 333 (6048), 1402-1407. Dirks, P., et al (2010). Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa, Science: 328 (5975), 205-208. Kibii, et al., (2011). A Partial Pelvis of Australopithecus sediba, Science: 1407-1411. Kivell, et al. (2011). Australopithecus sediba Hand Demonstrates Mosaic Evolution of Locomotor and Manipulative Abilities, Science: 1411-1417. Pickering, et al. (2011). Australopithecus sediba at 1.977 Ma and Implications for the Origins of the Genus Homo, Science: 1421-1423. Thackeray J. F. (2010). Comparisons between Australopithecus sediba (MH1) and other hominin taxa, in the context of probabilities of conspecificity, South African Journal of Science: 106(7-8): 1-2. Wong, K., (2010). Spectacular South African skeletons reveal new species from murky period of human evolution, Scientific American Wong, K., (2010). Fossils of our family, Scientific American Zipfel, et al. (2011). The Foot and Ankle of Australopithecus sediba, Science: 1417-1420.

MAJOR SITES
• Malapa Cave, South Africa: in valley at north end of cave series likely vertical shafts from surface into cave system (“death traps”), flowing water; specimens buried together in a single debris flow; lithified soon after, inaccessible to scavengers

Related Interests