New specimens and confirmation of an early age for Australopithecus anamensis

Meave G. Leakey, Craig Feibel, Ian McDougall, Carol Ward, Alan Walker

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Abstract

The discovery of Australopithecus anamensis fossils from strata lying between tephra dated at 4.17 and 4.12 million years ago, and from slightly higher strata not well constrained in age by overlying dated units, provoked the claim that more than one species might be represented: it was suggested that the stratigraphically higher fossils, which include the important tibia, humerus and a large, presumed male, mandible (KNM-KP 29287), might belong to a later, more derived hominid. We have recovered new fossils from Kanapoi and Allia Bay, Kenya, during field work in 1995-1997 that confirm the primitive status of Australopithecus anamensis, the earliest species of Australopithecus. Isotope dating confirms A. anamensis intermediate age as being between those of Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus afarensis. New specimens of maxilla, mandible and capitate show that this species is demonstrably more primitive than A. afarensis. A lower first deciduous molar (dm1) is intermediate in morphology between that reported for Ardipithecus ramidus and A. afarensis. Single-crystal Ar- Ar age determinations on the Kanapoi Tuff show that, except for a large mandible, all of the hominid fossils from Kanapoi are from sediments deposited between 4.17 ± 0.03 and 4.07 ±0.02 million years ago.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-66
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume393
Issue number6680
DOIs
StatePublished - May 7 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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    Leakey, M. G., Feibel, C., McDougall, I., Ward, C., & Walker, A. (1998). New specimens and confirmation of an early age for Australopithecus anamensis. Nature, 393(6680), 62-66. https://doi.org/10.1038/29972