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Australopithecine Adaptations The Big Picture

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ANT 301
Chris Kirk

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Australopithecine Adaptations: The Big Picture Monday, April 15, 2013 2:26 PM Australopithecine Brains •From ~7 to 3 MYA, only a slight trend toward increased brain size •Sahelanth: 320 cc •Au. Afrarensis: 430 cc •A*** •Australopiths have ape-sized brain and cranium that is porgnathic with large, robust facial skeleton Cheek Teeth •Thick enamel • Large •New diet •Tougher food items? •More resistance to wear? (Bipedal connection) •Ancestral Condition (Primitive e.g., chimps, Dryopithecus?) o Ripe fruit o Thinner enamel o Smaller cheeck •Most Australopiths (Derived) o Tougher, harder, and/or more abrasive food items (e.g., nuts, tubers?) o Thicker enamel o Larger cheek teeth Canines •Get smaller through time •Lose honing faucet •Possible implications 1. Reduced competition? 2. New diet? 1. Tool use? Remember: Common chimps use tools LCA of Pan and Australopithecus probably had the capacity, but earliest stone tool use. Locomotion •Habitually bipedal when on ground, but retain climbing adaptations A. Why become bipedal anyway? •Bipedalism is a silly way to get around… slow, back problems, broken hips, etc. •Greater efficiency o Knuckle walking a good compromise for retaining arboreal features, but is inefficient o Bipedal walking is hi
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