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Difference Between Australopithecus and Paranthropus, Essay Example

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It was Dr Robert Broom who first discovered ‘Australopitheus Robustus’ within a fossil fragment. It was the shape and size of the molar that led Broom to consider that he had discovered a new species. He returned to the cave where the specimen had been discovered by a young boy. Here he discovered more fragments of cranial and mandibular pieces. These became known as TM1517 and the type species of ‘Australopitheus Robustus’. This was a significant discovery in the determination that South African australopithecines as hominids had their ancestry in humans and not apes. An additional find was that of SK6 known as ‘Paranthropus Cranidens’. (Modern Human Origins, 2012).

It is Australopithecus that is also referred to as Paranthropus boisei known for the large jaws and illustration of large canine like teeth.  It is considered to be unusual in the sense that it has a unique and distinct cranial and dental morphology.  The discoveries have facilitated a better understanding of evolutionary history and the ability to trace species through hundreds of thousands of years. (Constantino, P. 2007). Fig 1 illustration shows examples of bone fragments discovered in Africa.

Paranthropus boisei bone fragments

Figure 1 : Paranthropus boisei bone fragments

The article produced by Wood and Constantino is an important piece of research that illustrates 50 years of evidence gathered in sites throughout Africa.  “The first bipeds were likely hominids that predated the australopithecines. Although postcranial evidence of hominids pre-dating the australopithecines is relatively rare, the positioning of the foramen magnum on the cranium of some fossil specimens is suggestive of their status as bipeds” (Szpak, P. 2012).

References

Constantino, B. W. (2007). Paranthropus boisei: Fifty years of evidence. Yearbook of physical anthropology Vol 50, 106-132.

Modern Human Origins. (2012, 9 25). Australopithecus/Paranthropus robustus. Retrieved from Modern Human Origins: http://www.modernhumanorigins.net/robistustus.html

Szpak, P. (2012, 9 25). Evolution of the Australopithecines. Retrieved from Tree of Life Web Project: http://tolweb.org/treehouses/?treehouse_id=4438

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