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J Hum Evol. 2017 Mar;104:174-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.09.005. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

The thigh and leg of Homo naledi.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Via Derna 1, Pisa 56126, Italy; Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa. Electronic address: damiano.marchi@unipi.it.
2
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA; Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Box 90383, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
3
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China; Department of Geoscience, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.
4
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.
5
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Box 90383, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
6
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa.
7
Evolutionary Studies Institute and Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.

Abstract

This paper describes the 108 femoral, patellar, tibial, and fibular elements of a new species of Homo (Homo naledi) discovered in the Dinaledi chamber of the Rising Star cave system in South Africa. Homo naledi possesses a mosaic of primitive, derived, and unique traits functionally indicative of a bipedal hominin adapted for long distance walking and possibly running. Traits shared with australopiths include an anteroposteriorly compressed femoral neck, a mediolaterally compressed tibia, and a relatively circular fibular neck. Traits shared with Homo include a well-marked linea aspera, anteroposteriorly thick patellae, relatively long tibiae, and gracile fibulae with laterally oriented lateral malleoli. Unique features include the presence of two pillars on the superior aspect of the femoral neck and a tubercular distal insertion of the pes anserinus on the tibia. The mosaic morphology of the H. naledi thigh and leg appears most consistent with a species intermediate between Australopithecus spp. and Homo erectus and, accordingly, may offer insight into the nature of the earliest members of genus Homo. These fossils also expand the morphological diversity of the Homo lower limb, perhaps indicative of locomotor diversity in our genus.

KEYWORDS:

Bipedal locomotion; Femur; Fibula; Patella; South Africa Rising Star; Tibia

PMID:
27855981
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhevol.2016.09.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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