Volume 41 December 2005

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    James William Kitching (1922–2003): a tribute
    On 24 December 2003, James William Kitching, regarded by many as one of the world’s greatest fossil finders, died at his home in Johannesburg. His passing marks the end of a pioneering era of palaeontological giants in South Africa.
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    A juvenile gomphodont cynodont specimen from the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone of South Africa: implications for the origin of gomphodont postcanine morphology
    The partial skull and lower jaws of a small gomphodont cynodont from the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone of South Africa has a well-preserved postcanine dentition distinctly different from that of contemporaneous adult Diademodon and Trirachodon. On the basis of its small size and great amount of tooth replacement it is interpreted to be a juvenile individual. The postcanines are compared with those of adults and juveniles of Diademodon and traversodontids and is seen to differ from them. Comparison with adults of Trirachodon shows some unique postcanine resemblances, such as well-developed anterior and posterior many-cusped cingula and three transverse cusps joined by a prominent ridge. Thus it is identified as a probable juvenile Trirachodon of uncertain species. Unlike in Trirachodon adults, tall central and internal cusps of the upper postcanines lie close together on the medial side of the crown, separated from the tall external cusp by a deep valley. In these features it shows a striking resemblance to the traversodontid Scalenodon angustifrons, but not to more primitive traversodontids. The lower postcanines superficially resemble those of traversodontids in that two cusps (central and internal) are very tall and the posterior basin is elongated, but, unlike in traversodontids, the external cusp is present, though relatively small. Evidence of tooth replacement occurs in the incisors, canines, and postcanines. At least two replacement waves of gomphodont teeth are indicated, as well as replacement of small, possibly sectorial teeth at the rear of the tooth row. Probable homology of (at least) the external and internal cusps in the three gomphodont families suggests that the common ancestor also possessed transversely-expanded crowns developed from an external sectorial position (homologous with the ancestral blade-like tooth) and a hypertrophied internal cingulum.
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    New information on the palate and lower jaw of Massospondylus (Dinosauria: Sauropodomorpha)
    Additional anatomical details of the palate and lower jaw of the prosauropod dinosaur Massospondylus Owen are documented on the basis of a previously undescribed skull from the upper Elliot Formation. The palate is generally similar to that of other early sauropodomorphs, but can be shown to differ from those of Plateosaurus, Lufengosaurus and Thecodontosaurus in several respects. For example, Massospondylus lacks the well-developed palatine boss seen in Plateosaurus and the pneumatic recess that is present on the ectopterygoid of Thecodontosaurus. In addition, Massospondylus possesses an expanded medioventral premaxillary process that is much larger than that of any other basal sauropodomorph.
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    The ownership of the Taung skull and of other fossil hominids and the question of repatriation
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2005-12) Tobias, Phillip V.
    The ownership of fossils, and for purposes of this paper I refer to that of hominid fossils, was long assumed to be vested in the individuals who made the discoveries. The author reviews here a series of case histories with which he has had direct or indirect personal contact, that illustrate claims for ownership. Some have been explicit, some implicit. They are drawn from South Africa, East Africa, North Africa, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Indonesia and China. This historical essay reviews the replacement of this practice by a policy that fossils are not seen as personal property, ut as part of the heritage of the country of origin. During the colonial era, many specimens were removed from former colonies to the ‘home countries’, where they remained for decades, at least until the subject territories attained their independence from the former imperial powers. The new policy about ownership, in such cases, entails the return (repatriation) of the expatriate fossils to the source country. Examples of success stories and of tardy responses are given. A policy for the future is set forth.