From Lucy to Kadanuumuu: Balanced analyses of Australopithecus afarensis assemblages confirmonly moderate skeletal dimorphism

Philip L. Reno, C. Owen Lovejoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sexual dimorphism in body size is often used as a correlate of social and reproductive behavior in Australopithecus afarensis. In addition to a number of isolated specimens, the sample for this species includes two small associated skeletons (A.L. 288-1 or "Lucy" and A.L. 128/129) and a geologically contemporaneous death assemblage of several larger individuals (A.L. 333). These have driven both perceptions and quantitative analyses concluding that Au. afarensis was markedly dimorphic. The TemplateMethod enables simultaneous evaluation ofmultiple skeletal sites, thereby greatly expanding sample size, and reveals that A. afarensis dimorphism was similar to that of modern humans. A new very large partial skeleton (KSD-VP-1/1 or "Kadanuumuu") can now also be used, like Lucy, as a template specimen. In addition, the recently developed Geometric Mean Method has been used to argue that Au. afarensis was equally or even more dimorphic than gorillas.However, in its previous application Lucy and A.L. 128/129 accounted for 10 of 11 estimates of female size. Here we directly compare the two methods and demonstrate that includingmultiple measurements from the same partial skeleton that falls at the margin of the species size range dramatically inflates dimorphism estimates. Prevention of the dominance of a single specimen's contribution to calculations ofmultiple dimorphism estimates confirms that Au. afarensis was only moderately dimorphic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere925
JournalPeerJ
Volume2015
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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