Date of Award

8-12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Frank L Williams

Second Advisor

Bethany Turner

Third Advisor

Arthur Durband

Fourth Advisor

Jason Heaton

Abstract

Sterkfontein West Pit, dated to 1.7-1.9 Ma, has yielded a number of fossils that are difficult to classify, such as StW 252, which comprises cranial bone fragments, and a full set of robust maxillary anterior and posterior teeth. The purpose of this study is to ascertain whether dental measurements of StW 252 more closely align with those of Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus robustus, Homo sapiens or the African apes. For M1 and M2, StW 252 is distinct from the comparative samples, and is particularly large buccolingually for M1 and mesiodistally for M2, partly resembling the dimensions of A. africanus, whereas for M3, StW 252 is mesiodistally and buccolingually large. Canonical scores axes show StW 252 as extreme in terms of size and polarized from A. robustus in terms of shape. StW 252 is distinct from both A. africanus and A. robustus, indicating an additional hominin taxon may be represented at Sterkfontein West Pit.

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