The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)



Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY, The New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, NYCEP

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The phylogenetic relationships within the hominin clade remain controversial, a state which can be largely attributed to the fragmentary nature of the fossil record. Currently, many species are represented only by craniodental fossils and, as a result, most phylogenetic studies on hominins have focused strongly on this more robust craniodental record. The use of postcranial morphological characters in phylogenetic analysis has the potential to make useful contributions to the current state of knowledge of evolutionary relationships within the clade.

Here, a phylogenetic analysis has been done using postcranial characters that are indicative of bipedalism. The most parsimonious tree was generated using the computer program MacClade and subsequently compared to an existing tree that was creating using craniodental characters. The two trees differ slightly, most notably in the placement of Homo floresiensis and Paranthropus robustus. It has been hypothesized that H. floresiensis represents a sister taxon of H. erectus; this hypothesis is not supported by the analysis done here, which instead suggests that H. floresiensis is more closely related to the Australopithecines. The placement of P. robustus is more difficult to interpret due to the lack of confidently associated postcranial remains for other megadont archaic hominins. The largest problem with this, as with other phylogenetic analyses of hominins, is the lack of data; more fossils from both new and existing taxa need to be found to further elucidate evolutionary relationships within the clade.

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