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Craniofacial diversity in early Homo and the affinities of the Sterkfontein Valley specimens

Bilsborough, A.



The Sterkfontein Valley specimens SK 847 (Swartkrans Member 1) and Stw 53 (Sterkfontein Member 5) provide important evidence of earlyHomo in southern Africa. However, specific identity has been disputed, with that of SK 847 especially contentious. Opinions differ markedly as to whether the specimens are conspecific or not, whether they should be referred to East African earlyHomo species, or whether they represent new species. Morphometric analysis of facial dimensions reveals contrasting affinities for the two South African fossils, and so does not support claims for their conspecifity. Stw 53 is very like smaller East African crania referred toH. habilis, whereas SK 847 has a distinctive facial pattern. In some respects it resembles early AfricanH. erectus (=H. ergaster), but with a markedly more projecting mid-face, prominent zygomatic and unexpanded frontal region, all of which militate against inclusion in that species. The taxonomic implications of these contrasting facial affinities are briefly discussed.


Bilsborough, A. (2002). Craniofacial diversity in early Homo and the affinities of the Sterkfontein Valley specimens. Human Evolution, 17(1-2), 21-32.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2002
Deposit Date May 17, 2007
Journal Human Evolution
Print ISSN 0393-9375
Electronic ISSN 1824-310X
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 1-2
Pages 21-32
Keywords Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, SK 847, Stw 53, earlyHomo, Homo habilis, Homo erectus.