The vertebral column of Australopithecus sediba

Scott A. Williams, Kelly R. Ostrofsky, Nakita Frater, Steven E. Churchill, Peter Schmid, Lee R. Berger

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Two partial vertebral columns of Australopithecus sediba grant insight into aspects of early hominin spinal mobility, lumbar curvature, vertebral formula, and transitional vertebra position. Au. sediba likely possessed five non-rib-bearing lumbar vertebrae and five sacral elements, the same configuration that occurs modally in modern humans. This finding contrasts with other interpretations of early hominin regional vertebral numbers. Importantly, the transitional vertebra is distinct from and above the last rib-bearing vertebra in Au. sediba, resulting in a functionally longer lower back. This configuration, along with a strongly wedged last lumbar vertebra and other indicators of lordotic posture, would have contributed to a highly flexible spine that is derived compared with earlier members of the genus Australopithecus and similar to that of the Nariokotome Homo erectus skeleton.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1232996
    Number of pages1
    JournalScience
    Volume340
    Issue number6129
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 12 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

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