The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)


Metric and nonmetric features of the Homo naledi dentition

LUCAS K. DELEZENE1,2, JULIET K. BROPHY2,3, MATTHEW M. SKINNER2,4,5, ALIA N. GURTOV2,6, JOHN HAWKS2,6, JOEL D. IRISH2,7, LEE R. BERGER2 and DARRYL J. DE RUITER2,8.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, 2Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, 3Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, 4School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, 5Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 6Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 7Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, Liverpool John Moores University, 8Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University

April 16, 2016 8:30, Imperial Ballroom A Add to calendar

The hominin fossil assemblage from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa, provides a comprehensive picture of the dental anatomy of Homo naledi. Currently, there are more than 190 whole or fragmentary teeth recovered from the chamber. These teeth represent at least 15 individuals that range in age from neonate to older adult. Metrically, the H. naledi dentition is smaller than that typical of Australopithecus and Paranthropus and overlaps in size with early Homo species. Nonmetric features, such as the absence of prominent postcanine cingular features and supernumerary cusps, also distinguish the Dinaledi teeth from Australopithecus and Paranthropus. The dentition retains a number of features that are primitive for genus Homo, including a distally increasing mandibular molar size gradient, a mandibular canine accessory distal cuspule, a fully bicuspid mandibular P3, a multirooted mandibular P3, multirooted maxillary premolars, and relatively large distal cusps on the permanent and deciduous molars. These primitive features are also seen in some early Homo, but not Middle and Late Pleistocene Homo. The sample, however, differs from known early Homo in having occlusally simple molars that lack crenulation and a prominent cusp 7. This suite of characters is not otherwise represented in eastern African, Eurasian, or previously known South African samples of Homo. Along with the anatomy of other skeletal regions, the morphology of the Dinaledi teeth supports the identification of a novel Homo taxon and provides further evidence for speciosity in the genus and lineage diversity in southern Africa.