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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Aug;100(4):545-57.

Chin morphology and sexual dimorphism in the fossil hominid mandible sample from Klasies River Mouth.

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Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-4364, USA.


The site of Klasies River Mouth (KRM) in South Africa has produced a small sample of early Upper Pleistocene hominid remains that have been a focus for discussions of the origins of modern humans. Despite certain primitive characteristics exhibited by these fossils, proponents of a single recent origin have attributed them to early modern humans. Critics of this hypothesis have emphasized the significance of the archaic features evident in this sample, including the absence of pronounced chins among the mandibular specimens. This study compares the size range and chin morphology exhibited by the KRM mandibles with that of Neandertals, Upper Pleistocene humans, and recent humans. The extreme sexual dimorphism documented among the KRM fossils reflects the presence of a very small individual, and previous efforts to classify the KRM sample as archaic on the basis of their robusticity have failed to address the significance of this diminutive hominid. While each KRM fossil falls within the 95% envelope of variability established for chin development in a comparative modern sample, a similarly low frequency of pronounced chins is very unlikely to be found in any recent human population. The morphological pattern of the KRM mandibles is clearly distinct from that of Neandertals and of recent humans.

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