Re: Genus names

Fri, 24 Feb 1995 12:12:26 GMT

In article <3igek2$> Robert Scott <> writes:

>Could you elaborate on the part about _A, robustus_ and _A. africanus_
>being most closely related? What reason do we have to believe that this
>is true? I've always understood that placing the two robust
>australopithecines in a clade was a reasonable position to take based on
>morphological evidence.

The best reference on the morphological similarities and dissimilarities
among _A. boisei_, _A. robustus_, and _A. africanus_ is Tobias's 1967
description of _A. boisei_ (in the Olduvai Gorge "Zinj" monograph). In
short, _A. boisei_ and _A. robustus_ share a general characteristic of
facial robustness and the biomechanical correlates that go with that. But
Tobias points out detail for detail the similarities of the southern African
_Australopithecus_. Indeed, some of those similarities led Yoel Rak (in
"The Australopithecine Face", 1983) to suggest that _A. africanus_ was
derived toward _A. robustus_ (a position with which I do not fully agree).

The many alternative explanations of these relationships and the alternative
phylogenies that can be proposed can only be resolved with further
fossils. I would encourage all qualified palaeoanthropologists to come down
here and get to work, for there are a lot of good places to look!

Dr. Jeffrey K. McKee (055JKMS@CHIRON.WITS.AC.ZA)
Hominid Palaeoecology Research Programme
Department of Anatomy and Human Biology
University of the Witwatersrand Medical School
Johannesburg, Gauteng
Republic of South Africa