Volume 44 December 2009

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    Palaeontologia africana Volume 44
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2009)
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    Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa - 15th Biennial Meeting, Matjiesfontein, 2008 - Abstracts
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009-12) Various
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    Partial hominin tibia (StW 396) from Sterkfontein, South Africa
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009-12) Zipfel, Bernhard; Berger, Lee R.
    Comparison of a proximal hominin tibial fragment, StW 396 from Sterkfontein Member 4, South Africa, with the StW 514a tibia, also from Member 4 and attributed to Australopithecus africanus, indicates a degree of morphological variability that may represent the extremes of intraspecific variability or even exceed what one would expect from intraspecific variation alone. The morphology of StW 396 is human-like which suggests adaptations towards stability at the knee, whilst that of StW 514a is interpreted as being more mobile and ape-like (Berger & Tobias 1996). Four features separate the two morphological patterns. In StW 514a the attachment area of m. semimembranosus is strongly localized, whereas in StW 396 the posteromedial border is notched near the base of the lateral intercondylar tubercle; thirdly, the lateral tibial condyle of StW 514a is supero-inferiorly thin, whereas in StW 396 the lateral condyle is supero-inferiorly thickened and the contrast between the condyle and the shaft is less pronounced; lastly the articular surface of the medial condyle of StW 396 is anteroposteriorly broad and highly concave as opposed to the narrower, flatter surface of StW 514a. The degree of variability of the two specimens possibly suggests differing functional adaptations and may thus support an hypothesis suggesting that two hominin species may be represented within Sterkfontein Member 4.
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    Dicynodont postcrania from the Triassic of Namibia and their implication for the systematics of Kannemeyeriiforme dicynodonts
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009-12) Govender, Romala; Yates, Adam
    Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the postcranial anatomy of Triassic dicynodonts from Africa. This study investigates the previously undescribed dicynodont postcrania from the Omingonde Formation of Namibia. Two valid dicynodont species, based upon crania, are known from this formation: Dolichuranus primaevus and Kannemeyeria lophorhinus. Dolichuranus displays a primitive generalized cranial anatomy that has made it difficult to place in Triassic dicynodont phylogeny. Some of the postcranial specimens can be positively identified as D. primaevus on the basis that they were associated with skulls of this species. Two scapula morphologies can be distinguished among the postcranial specimens that are not positively associated with diagnostic cranial remains. One of these shares similarities with the scapula of Kannemeyeria simocephalus from South Africa and is provisionally referred to K. lophorhinus. The other displays unusual characters such as the absence of an acromion and a tubercle on the lateral surface of the scapula at the level where the acromion would be expected. Inclusion of the new postcranial data in a cladistic analysis of Triassic dicynodonts resolves the position of D. primaevus as a member of Sinokannemeyeriidae. It also causes an enigmatic unnamed postcranial taxon from equivalently aged beds in South Africa to fall within the Sinokannemeyeriidae. These results highlight the importance of including postcranial data in analyses of Triassic dicynodont relationships.
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    Middle Pliocene Bovidae from Hominid-bearing sites in the Woranso-Mille area, Afar region, Ethiopia
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009-12) Geraads, Denis; Melillo, Stephanie; Haile-Selassie, Yohannes
    Hominid-bearing sites of the northwestern part of the Woranso-Mille research area, dated to between 3.7 and 3.8 Mya, yield 10 species of Bovidae. The evolutionary stages of the most common species fit quite well this radiometric age. The most abundant bovid is a new species of Aepyceros, of large size, with upright, lyrated horn-cores; it is clearly distinct from the impalas of younger sites in the same area, and from those sampled at Hadar. A new species of Tragelaphus is also common; its horn-cores exhibit reduced anterior keel and antero-posterior compression foreshadowing the most common form at Hadar. A single partial Ugandax skull, despite some primitiveness, may fit into the variation range of U. coryndonae from Hadar. Other tribes are rare; the virtual absence of reduncines is a major difference from younger sites, but the occurrence of a cephalophine and of Neotragus is worth noting. This assemblage unambiguously indicates an environment with a significant component of arboreal vegetation.