Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

Caroline VanSickle, Zachary Cofran, Daniel García-Martínez, Scott Williams, Steven E. Churchill, Lee R. Berger, John Hawks

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In the hominin fossil record, pelvic remains are sparse and are difficult to attribute taxonomically when they are not directly associated with craniodental material. Here we describe the pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber in the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, which has produced hominin fossils of a new species, Homo naledi. Though this species has been attributed to Homo based on cranial and lower limb morphology, the morphology of some of the fragmentary pelvic remains recovered align more closely with specimens attributed to the species Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus than they do with those of most (but not all) known species of the genus Homo. As with A. afarensis and A. africanus, H. naledi appears to have had marked lateral iliac flare and either a weakly developed or non-existent acetabulocristal buttress or a distinct, albeit weakly developed, acetabulospinous buttress. At the same time, H. naledi has robust superior pubic and ischiopubic rami and a short ischium with a narrow tuberoacetabular sulcus, similar to those found in modern humans. The fragmentary nature of the Dinaledi pelvic assemblage makes the attribution of sex and developmental age to individual specimens difficult, which in turn diminishes our ability to identify the number of individuals represented in the assemblage. At present, we can only confidently say that the pelvic fossils from Rising Star represent at least four individuals based on the presence of four overlapping right ischial fossils (whereas a minimum of 15 individuals can be identified from the Dinaledi dental assemblage). A primitive, early Australopithecus-like false pelvis combined with a derived Homo-like true pelvis is morphologically consistent with evidence from the lower ribcage and proximal femur of H. naledi. The overall similarity of H. naledi ilia to those of australopiths supports the inference, drawn from the observation of primitive pelvic morphology in the extinct species Homo floresiensis, that there is substantial variation in pelvic form within the genus Homo. In the light of these findings, we urge caution in making taxonomic attributions-even at the genus level-of isolated fossil ossa coxae.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalJournal of Human Evolution
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017

    Fingerprint

    Homo
    chamber
    South Africa
    fossil
    fossils
    attribution
    pelvis
    cave system
    fossil record
    limb
    new species
    limbs (animal)
    femur
    caves
    Africa
    present
    teeth
    ability
    evidence
    gender

    Keywords

    • Australopithecus
    • Hominin
    • Pelvis
    • Postcrania
    • Rising Star

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Anthropology

    Cite this

    VanSickle, C., Cofran, Z., García-Martínez, D., Williams, S., Churchill, S. E., Berger, L. R., & Hawks, J. (Accepted/In press). Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.10.001

    Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. / VanSickle, Caroline; Cofran, Zachary; García-Martínez, Daniel; Williams, Scott; Churchill, Steven E.; Berger, Lee R.; Hawks, John.

    In: Journal of Human Evolution, 01.01.2017.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    VanSickle, C, Cofran, Z, García-Martínez, D, Williams, S, Churchill, SE, Berger, LR & Hawks, J 2017, 'Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa', Journal of Human Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.10.001
    VanSickle C, Cofran Z, García-Martínez D, Williams S, Churchill SE, Berger LR et al. Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. 2017 Jan 1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.10.001
    VanSickle, Caroline ; Cofran, Zachary ; García-Martínez, Daniel ; Williams, Scott ; Churchill, Steven E. ; Berger, Lee R. ; Hawks, John. / Homo naledi pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa. In: Journal of Human Evolution. 2017.
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