The transverse contour of the cranial base is convex in African apes, whereas A. afarensis shows an angular transition between the nuchal region and the greatly expanded mastoids (red dashed lines). In this regard, A. afarensis anticipates the morphology of robust australopiths, but A. africanus is less derived. MRD shows the primitive convex contour of the base, even though the mastoids are expanded. MRD is also primitive with regard to the great length of the nuchal plane (black arrows). However, it is similar to A. afarensis in the configuration of the compound temporal–nuchal crest (white dashed lines), the bare area (blue hatched triangle), and the overall ‘bell-shaped’ posterior outline (that is, the parietal walls are slightly convergent superiorly and the greatest width occurs basally across the enlarged mastoids).