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The position of Australopithecus sediba within fossil hominin hand use diversity

Dunmore, Christopher J., Skinner, Matthew M., Bardo, Ameline, Berger, Lee R, Hublin, Jean-Jacques, Pahr, Dieter H., Rosas, Antonio, Stephens, Nicholas B., Kivell, Tracy L. (2020) The position of Australopithecus sediba within fossil hominin hand use diversity. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 4 . pp. 911-918. ISSN 2397-334X. (doi:10.1038/s41559-020-1207-5) (KAR id:81327)


The human lineage is marked by a transition in hand use, from locomotion towards increasingly dexterous manipulation, concomitant with bipedalism. The forceful precision grips used by modern humans probably evolved in the context of tool manufacture and use, but when and how many times hominin hands became principally manipulative remains unresolved. We analyse metacarpal trabecular and cortical bone, which provide insight into behaviour during an individual’s life, to demonstrate previously unrecognized diversity in hominin hand use. The metacarpals of the palm in Australopithecus sediba have trabecular morphology most like orangutans and consistent with locomotor power-grasping with the fingers, while that of the thumb is consistent with human-like manipulation. This internal morphology is the first record of behaviour consistent with a hominin that used its hand for both arboreal locomotion and human-like manipulation. This hand use is distinct from other fossil hominins in this study, including A. afarensis and A. africanus.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41559-020-1207-5
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: [37325] UNSPECIFIED
Organisations -1 not found.
Fyssen Foundation (
Depositing User: Chris Dunmore
Date Deposited: 20 May 2020 11:58 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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