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A hominin first rib discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa

AuthorsTawane, Gaokgatlhe; García-Martínez, Daniel; Eyre, Jennifer; Bastir, Markus ; Berger, Lee R.; Schmid, Peter; Nalla, Shahed; Williams, Scott A.
KeywordsUpper thorax
Australopithecus africanus
Geometric morphometrics
Gauteng Province
Rib cage
Issue Date26-May-2016
PublisherAcademy of Science of South Africa
CitationSouth African Journal of Science 112(5/6): Art. #2015-0278 (2016)
AbstractFirst ribs - the first or most superior ribs in the thorax - are rare in the hominin fossil record, and when found, have the potential to provide information regarding the upper thorax shape of extinct hominins. Here, we describe a partial first rib from Member 4 of the Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa. The rib shaft is broken away, so only the head and neck are preserved. The rib is small, falling closest to small-bodied Australopithecus first ribs (AL 288-1 and MH1). Given that it was recovered near the StW 318 femur excavation, which also represents a small individual, we suggest that the two may be associated. Three-dimensional geometric morphometric analyses were used to quantify the rib fragment morphology and compare it to extant hominoid and other fossil hominin ribs. While only the proximal end is preserved, our analyses show that South African Australopithecus share derived features of the proximal first rib more closely resembling A. afarensis and later hominins than great apes.
Identifiersdoi: 10.17159/sajs.2016/20150278
e-issn: 1996-7489
issn: 0038-2353
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