The Skull Of Australopithecus Afarensis

Hardcover | March 11, 2004

byWilliam H. Kimbel, Yoel Rak, Donald C. Johanson

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The book is the most in-depth account of the fossil skull anatomy and evolutionary significance of the 3.6-3.0 million year old early human species Australopithecus afarensis. Knowledge of this species is pivotal to understanding early human evolution, because 1) the sample of fossil remainsof A. afarensis is among the most extensive for any early human species, and the majority of remains are of taxonomically inormative skulls and teeth; 2) the wealth of material makes A. afarensis an indispensable point of reference for the interpretation of other fossil discoveries; 3) the speciesoccupies a time period that is the focus of current research to determine when, where, and why the human lineage first diversified into separate contemporaneous lines of descent. Upon publication of this book, this species will be among the most thoroughly documented extinct ancestors of humankind.The main focus of the book - its organizing principle - is the first complete skull of A. afarensis (specimen number A.L. 444-2) at the Hadar site, Ethiopia, the home of the remarkably complete 3.18 million year old skeleton known as "Lucy," found at Hadar by third author D. Johanson in 1974. Lucyand other fossils from Hadar, together with those from the site of Laetoli in Tanzania, were controversially attributed to the then brand new species A. afarensis by Johanson, T. White and Y. Coppens in 1978. However, a complete skull, which would have quickly resolved much of the early debate overthe species, proved elusive until second author Y. Rak's discovery of the 444 skull in 1992. The book details the comparative anatomy of the new skull (and the cast of its brain, analyzed by R. Holloway and M. Huan) , as well as of other skull and dental finds recovered during the latest, ongoingfield work at Hadar, and analyzes the evolutionary significance of A. afarensis in the context of other critically important discoveries of earliest humans made in recent years. In essence, it summarizes the state of knowledge about one of the central subjects of current paleoanthropologicalinvestigation.

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The book is the most in-depth account of the fossil skull anatomy and evolutionary significance of the 3.6-3.0 million year old early human species Australopithecus afarensis. Knowledge of this species is pivotal to understanding early human evolution, because 1) the sample of fossil remainsof A. afarensis is among the most extensive ...

William H. Kimbel is at Arizona State University. Yoel Rak is at Tel Aviv University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.7 × 11.1 × 0.91 inPublished:March 11, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195157060

ISBN - 13:9780195157062

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Table of Contents

1. Background to This Study2. Recovery and Reconstruction of A.L.444-23. A.L. 444-2: The Reconstructed Skull as a Whole4. by Ralph L. Holloway and Michael S. Yuan: Endocranial Morphology of A.L. 444-25. Elements of the Disarticulated Skull6. Implications of A.L. 444-2 for the Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Status of Australopithecus afarensisNotesReferences

Editorial Reviews

"The illustrations are a fitting complement to the scholarship. The photographs are uniformly excellent, as are the line drawings. Illustrations are used imaginatively and effectively; the figure that depicts the hypothetical morphocline in glenoid morphology really is an example of a goodpicture being worth a thousand words. I can only imagine how much work went into this volume. We should be grateful that the authors were willing to make the effort." -- Journal of Anthropological Research