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New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Williams, SA; Prang, TC; Meyer, MR; Nalley, TK; Van Der Merwe, R; Yelverton, C; García-Martínez, D; Russo, GA; Ostrofsky, KR; Spear, J; Eyre, J ...
Published in: eLife
November 2021

Adaptations of the lower back to bipedalism are frequently discussed but infrequently demonstrated in early fossil hominins. Newly discovered lumbar vertebrae contribute to a near-complete lower back of Malapa Hominin 2 (MH2), offering additional insights into posture and locomotion in Australopithecus sediba. We show that MH2 possessed a lower back consistent with lumbar lordosis and other adaptations to bipedalism, including an increase in the width of intervertebral articular facets from the upper to lower lumbar column ('pyramidal configuration'). These results contrast with some recent work on lordosis in fossil hominins, where MH2 was argued to demonstrate no appreciable lordosis ('hypolordosis') similar to Neandertals. Our three-dimensional geometric morphometric (3D GM) analyses show that MH2's nearly complete middle lumbar vertebra is human-like in overall shape but its vertebral body is somewhat intermediate in shape between modern humans and great apes. Additionally, it bears long, cranially and ventrally oriented costal (transverse) processes, implying powerful trunk musculature. We interpret this combination of features to indicate that A. sediba used its lower back in both bipedal and arboreal positional behaviors, as previously suggested based on multiple lines of evidence from other parts of the skeleton and reconstructed paleobiology of A. sediba.

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Published In

eLife

DOI

EISSN

2050-084X

ISSN

2050-084X

Publication Date

November 2021

Volume

10

Start / End Page

e70447

Related Subject Headings

  • Posture
  • Locomotion
  • Hominidae
  • Fossils
  • Female
  • Back
  • Animals
  • 42 Health sciences
  • 32 Biomedical and clinical sciences
  • 31 Biological sciences
 

Citation

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MLA
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Williams, S. A., Prang, T. C., Meyer, M. R., Nalley, T. K., Van Der Merwe, R., Yelverton, C., … Berger, L. R. (2021). New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back. ELife, 10, e70447. https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.70447
Williams, Scott A., Thomas Cody Prang, Marc R. Meyer, Thierra K. Nalley, Renier Van Der Merwe, Christopher Yelverton, Daniel García-Martínez, et al. “New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back.ELife 10 (November 2021): e70447. https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.70447.
Williams SA, Prang TC, Meyer MR, Nalley TK, Van Der Merwe R, Yelverton C, et al. New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back. eLife. 2021 Nov;10:e70447.
Williams, Scott A., et al. “New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back.ELife, vol. 10, Nov. 2021, p. e70447. Epmc, doi:10.7554/elife.70447.
Williams SA, Prang TC, Meyer MR, Nalley TK, Van Der Merwe R, Yelverton C, García-Martínez D, Russo GA, Ostrofsky KR, Spear J, Eyre J, Grabowski M, Nalla S, Bastir M, Schmid P, Churchill SE, Berger LR. New fossils of Australopithecus sediba reveal a nearly complete lower back. eLife. 2021 Nov;10:e70447.

Published In

eLife

DOI

EISSN

2050-084X

ISSN

2050-084X

Publication Date

November 2021

Volume

10

Start / End Page

e70447

Related Subject Headings

  • Posture
  • Locomotion
  • Hominidae
  • Fossils
  • Female
  • Back
  • Animals
  • 42 Health sciences
  • 32 Biomedical and clinical sciences
  • 31 Biological sciences