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Durham University

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Bilsborough, A. (2002). Craniofacial diversity in early Homo and the affinities of the Sterkfontein Valley specimens. Human Evolution 17(1-2): 21-32.

Author(s) from Durham


The Sterkfontein Valley specimens SK 847 (Swartkrans Member 1) and Stw 53 (Sterkfontein Member 5) provide important evidence of earlyHomo in southern Africa. However, specific identity has been disputed, with that of SK 847 especially contentious. Opinions differ markedly as to whether the specimens are conspecific or not, whether they should be referred to East African earlyHomo species, or whether they represent new species. Morphometric analysis of facial dimensions reveals contrasting affinities for the two South African fossils, and so does not support claims for their conspecifity. Stw 53 is very like smaller East African crania referred toH. habilis, whereas SK 847 has a distinctive facial pattern. In some respects it resembles early AfricanH. erectus (=H. ergaster), but with a markedly more projecting mid-face, prominent zygomatic and unexpanded frontal region, all of which militate against inclusion in that species. The taxonomic implications of these contrasting facial affinities are briefly discussed.