Volume 28 1991

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    Palaeontologia africana Volume 28
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1991)
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    A palaeontological model for determining the limits of early hominid taxonomic variability
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1991) Wood, Bernard
    This paper has examined the utility and implications of using Australopithecus boisei as a model for assessing the limits of intraspecific variation in early hominid species. When compared to variation in a sample of lowland gorilla, the coefficient of variation values of the 25 cranial and mandibular, and 44 dental measurements taken on the A. boisei hypodigm were not excessive; the main difference between the two samples was the higher levels of canine variability within gorilla. Levels of variability in A. boisei were compared with those in the hypodigms of A. robustus and A. africanus. In neither case did comparisons demonstrate that those hypodigms were excessively variable. This suggests that if more than one taxon is present within these collections, then any differential diagnosis needs to be based on excessive variation in shape and not size.
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    Alun Rhun Hughes: a tribute after forty four years of companionship in Anatomy and Anthropology
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1991) Tobias, Phillip V
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    Miocene faunal remains from the Burji-Soyama area, Amaro Horst, southern sector of the main Ethiopian Rift
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1991) Suwa, Gen; White, Tim; Asfaw, B; WoldeGabriel, Giday; Yemane, Tesfaye
    The Palaeoanthropological Inventory of Ethiopia is dedicated to the discovery and documentation of palaeoanthropologically significant study areas in the Main Ethiopian Rift and Afar Depression. Fieldwork in the area at the southern end of the Amaro Horst during the 1989 field season was focused on a fossiliferous sedimentary succession with intercalated volcanic horizons. Potassium-argon dating sets a minimum age of 11.1 my for sediments bearing vertebrate remains. The partial skeleton of a fossil proboscidean recovered at Burji is described, illustrated and assessed comparatively. The remains are those of a primitive species of choerolophodont mastodon. Biochronological considerations place this specimen in the time range of 15-17 my. The presence of fossiliferous sediments in the Burji area suggest that a rift-related basin had developed in this part of Ethiopia by Middle or Early Miocene times.
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    The stratigraphy of the Sterkfontein hominid deposit and its relationship to the underground cave system
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1991) Partridge, T C; Watt, I B
    A programme of orientated core drilling was carried out during 1989 to elucidate stratigraphic relationships within the Sterkfontein Formation and to obtain a representative suite of samples for palaeomagnetic analysis. The cores have revealed that the hominid-bearing cave deposits occur as a continuous succession comprising 6 Members and extending to a maximum depth of about 30 m below present surface. Of these Member I (comprising a sterile, residual fill) and Member 3 are the most extensive. This sequence has been displaced vertically downwards within a zone of decalcification coinciding with the central part of the deposit. This zone has been the focus of recent deep excavations at the site. The results of the drilling, in conjunction with recent surveys of the underground cave system, confirm that a dolomite floor existed at an average depth of about 20 m at the time offirst cave filling. Subsequent cavern development down to depths in excess of 50 m caused the local collapse of some lower units of the Sterkfontein Formation and, as new openings developed to the surface, permitted the ingress of younger fills below the base of the hominid-bearing succession.