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An odontometric assessment of variability inAustralopithecus afarensis

Abstract

Odontometric data are utilized to investigate both the extent of variation in the Pliocene hominid remains from Hadar and Laetoli and whether this variation is best explained as resulting from sexual dimorphism or from the presence of more than one species in the sample. Coefficients of variation for the Hadar/Laetoli dental elements are compared with those from other established Plio-Pleistocene hominid taxa and extant pongids. Results indicate that while CVs for the central cheek teeth (M1/1 and M2/2) tend to be rather high, the variability does not consistently exceed ranges of variability for extant anthropoids and other primate species. Thus odontometric data do not disprove the null hypothesis that the Hadar/Laetoli sample can be accommodated within a single species. Therefore, although the Hadar/Laetoli sample tends to exhibit less canine variability than is found among sexually dimorphic apes, odontometric variation in this sample is more likely due to sexual dimorphism than the presence of multiple taxa in the sample.

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Correspondence to T. M. Cole.

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Cole, T.M., Smith, F.H. An odontometric assessment of variability inAustralopithecus afarensis . Hum. Evol. 2, 221–234 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03016108

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Key words

  • Australopithecus afarensis
  • odontometrics
  • dental variation
  • sexual dimorphism
  • sibling species