Letter | Published:

New discoveries of Australopithecus at Maka in Ethiopia

Naturevolume 366pages261265 (1993) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

THE taxonomy of Australopithecus afarensis, the oldest known hominid species, has been a matter of debate since its description in 1978 (ref. 1). Some authorities regard all specimens assigned to A. afarensisas belonging to a single taxon2–4whereas others regard the Tanzanian and Ethiopian specimens as each representing a different species5,6. Further controversy surrounds the issues of sexual dimorphism and locomotion among these hominids. Resolution of these problems would shed light on hominid phylogeny in general and on the ancestry of later Australopithecus and Homo. Fossils discovered in the Afar of Ethiopia in 1990 constitute the first major addition to the 3–4 million year (Myr) hominid record since the 1970s. We report here the discovery of new fossils from Maka, dated to 3.4 Myr ago, which provide powerful support for the interpretation of A. afarensis as a single, ecologically diverse, sexually dimorphic, bipedal Pliocene primate species whose known range encompassed Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Johanson, D. C., White, T. D. & Coppens, Y. Kirtlandia 28, 1–14 (1978).

  2. 2

    Johanson, D. C. & White, T. D. Science 202, 321–330 (1979).

  3. 3

    White, T. D. in Ancestors: The Hard Evidence (ed. Delson, E.) 139–152 (Liss, New York, 1985).

  4. 4

    Boaz, N. T. Yearb. Phys. Anthrop. 31, 85–113 (1988).

  5. 5

    Leakey, M. D. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B292, 95–10 (1981).

  6. 6

    Tuttle, R. H. A. Rev. Anthrop. 17, 391–426 (1988).

  7. 7

    Kalb, J. E. et al. Nature 298, 17–25 (1982).

  8. 8

    Kalb, J. E. et al. Nature 298, 25–29 (1982).

  9. 9

    Conroy, G. C., Jolly, C. J., Cramer, D. & Kalb, J. Nature 275, 67–70 (1978).

  10. 10

    Clark, J. D. et al. Nature 307, 423–428 (1984).

  11. 11

    Asfaw, B. J. hum. Evol. 16, 611–624 (1987).

  12. 12

    Adamson, D. A. & Williams, M. A. J. J. hum. Evol. 16, 597–610 (1987).

  13. 13

    Tobias, P. V. Palaeont. afr. 23, 1–17 (1980).

  14. 14

    Leakey, R. E. Am. Sci. 64, 174–178 (1976).

  15. 15

    Coppens, Y. Le Singe, I'Afrique et I'Homme (Fayard, Paris, 1983).

  16. 16

    Olson, T. R. in Aspects of Human Evolution (ed. Stringer, C.) 99–128 (Taylor and Francis, London, 1981).

  17. 17

    Senut, B. Bull. Mem. Soc. Anthrop. Paris 10, 325–334 (1983).

  18. 18

    Zihlman, A. in Hominid Evolution: Past, Present and Future (ed. Tobias, P. V.) 213–220 (Liss, New York, 1981).

  19. 19

    Falk, D. Braindance (Holt, New York, 1992).

  20. 20

    Mayr, E. in A History of American Physical Anthropology 1930–1980 (ed. Spencer, F.) 231–237 (Academic, New York, 1982).

  21. 21

    Latimer, B. & Lovejoy, C. O. Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 78, 369–386 (1989).

  22. 22

    Latimer, B. in Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés (eds Coppens, Y. & Senut, B.) 169–176 (Editions du CNRS, Paris, 1991).

  23. 23

    Lovejoy, C. O. Sci. Am. 256(11), 118 125 (1988).

  24. 24

    Stern, J. T. & Susman, R. L. Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 60, 279–317 (1983).

  25. 25

    Rose, M. D. in Origine(s) de la Bipédie Chez les Hominidés (eds Coppens, Y. & Senut, B.) 37–48 (Editions du CNRS, Paris, 1991).

  26. 26

    Susman, R. L. & Stern, J. T. in Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés (eds Coppens, Y. & Senut, B.) 121–131 (Editions du CNRS, Paris, 1991).

  27. 27

    Haileab, B. & Brown, F. H. J. hum. Evol. 22, 453–468 (1992).

  28. 28

    Deino, A., Tauxe, L., Monaghan, M. & Drake, R. J. Geol. 98, 567–587 (1990).

  29. 29

    Johanson, D. C. et al. Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 57, 373–719 (1982).

  30. 30

    Cronin, J. E., Boaz, N. T., Stringer, C. B. & Rak, Y. Nature 292, 113–122 (1981).

  31. 31

    Leonard, W. R. & Hegmon, M. Am. J. phys. Anthrop. 73, 41–63 (1987).

  32. 32

    Day, M. H. Nature 300, 574 (1982).

  33. 33

    Walter, R. C., Manega, P. C., Hay, R. L., Drake, R. E. & Curtis, G. H. Nature 354, 145–149 (1991).

  34. 34

    Gortani, M. & Biachi, A. Missione Geologica Dell'azienda Generale Italiana Petroli (AGIP) Neila Dancalia Meridionale e Sugli Altipiani Hararini (1936–1938) (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome. 1973).

  35. 35

    Taieb, M. thesis, Univ. Paris (1974).

  36. 36

    Kalb, J. E., Oswald, E. B., Mebrate, A., Tebedge, S. & Jolly, C. J. Newsl. Stratigr. 11, 95–127 (1982).

  37. 37

    Walter, R. C., WoldeGabriel, G. & Westgate, J. Geol. Soc. Am. Abstr. Progm. 17, 743 (1985).

  38. 38

    Brown, F. H., Sarna-Wojcicki, A. M., Meyer, C. E. & Haileab, B. Quat. int. 13/14, 55–67 (1992).

  39. 39

    Hart, W. K., Walter, R. C. & WoldeGabriel, G. Quat. Int. 13/14, 77–86 (1992).

  40. 40

    WoldeGabriel, G. & Aronson, J. L. Geology 15, 432–433 (1987).

  41. 41

    WoldeGabriel, G., Walter, R. C., Aronson, J. L. & Hart, W. K. Quat. Int. 13/14, 69–76 (1992).

  42. 42

    Hall, C. M., Walter, R. C., Westgate, J. A. & York, D. Nature 308, 26–31 (1984).

  43. 43

    Walter, R. C. & Aronson, J. L. J. hum. Evol. 25, 229–240 (1993).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, California, 94720, USA

    • Tim D. White
  2. Department of Anthropology, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Hongo, Tokyo, 113, Japan

    • Gen suwa
  3. Department of Geology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, 45056, USA

    • William K. Hart
  4. Geochronology Center, Institute of Human Origins, 2453 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California, 94709, USA

    • Robert C. Walter
  5. EES-1/D462, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 87545, USA

    • Giday WoldeGabriel
  6. Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, 29 Vautier Street, 1040, Brussels, Belgium

    • Jean de Heinzelin
  7. Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, California, 94720, USA

    • J. Desmond Clark
  8. Paleoanthropology Laboratory, PO Box 5717, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    • Berhane Asfaw
  9. Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 06511, USA

    • Elisabeth Vrba

Authors

  1. Search for Tim D. White in:

  2. Search for Gen suwa in:

  3. Search for William K. Hart in:

  4. Search for Robert C. Walter in:

  5. Search for Giday WoldeGabriel in:

  6. Search for Jean de Heinzelin in:

  7. Search for J. Desmond Clark in:

  8. Search for Berhane Asfaw in:

  9. Search for Elisabeth Vrba in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/366261a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.