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Maxillary morphology of Australopithecus afarensis and extant hominines: exploring variation in human evolution

Hanegraef, Hester; (2023) Maxillary morphology of Australopithecus afarensis and extant hominines: exploring variation in human evolution. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Whether fossils should be attributed to a single species or represent evidence for taxic diversity relies on morphological differences. The point at which the morphological variation is more than what can be accommodated within a species is generally inferred from extant hominids when assessing extinct hominins, but a good understanding of the degree and structure of the intergeneric, interspecific, and intraspecific variation in the extant sample is key in this context. Moreover, a useful addition to such an extant comparative framework is to characterise variation in a well-defined extinct hominin species. Australopithecus afarensis is the best candidate for this type of study because its species status is widely recognised and it has a large and well-preserved fossil record from eastern Africa, which represents a substantial time range (ca. 3.8–2.9 Ma). Since facial morphology commonly expresses functional adaptations and plays a central role in the diagnosis of several hominin taxa, this research focuses on analysing maxillary variation, by direct observation and as inferred from mandibular morphology. The sample includes all currently recognised extant Homo, Pan, and Gorilla species and subspecies, as well as nine maxillae and 20 mandibles from the A. afarensis hypodigm that are sufficiently preserved for this research. First, taphonomic deformations and partial fossil jaws were virtually reconstructed. Three-dimensional geometric morphometric methods were then used to analyse different components of size and shape variation, including taxonomical differences, allometry, sexual dimorphism, age-related changes, and temporal trends. Results of this research provide insights into the morphological variation shown by the maxillae of extant hominines and A. afarensis, which can help with the interpretation of the hominin fossil record and species attributions of key Plio-Pleistocene specimens.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Maxillary morphology of Australopithecus afarensis and extant hominines: exploring variation in human evolution
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10174037
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