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The place of the australopithecines in human evolution: grounds for doubt?


Although most studies emphasise the similarity of the australopithecines to modern man, and suggest, therefore, that these creatures were bipedal tool-makers at least one form of which (Australopithecus africanus—“Homo habilis”, “Homo africanus”) was almost directly ancestral to man, a series of multivariate statistical studies of various postcranial fragments suggests other conclusions. Their locomotion may not have been like that of modern man, and may, though including a form or forms of bipedality, have been different enough to allow marked abilities for climbing. Bipedality may have arisen more than once, the Australopithecinae displaying one or more experiments in bipedality that failed. The genus Homo may, in fact, be so ancient as to parallel entirely the genus Australopithecus thus denying the latter a direct place in the human lineage.

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Oxnard, C. The place of the australopithecines in human evolution: grounds for doubt?. Nature 258, 389–395 (1975).

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