Interesting Paranthropus robustus Study

National Geographic mentions an interesting study, appearing in Science, that looks at group composition among Paranthropus robustus . The study looks at sexual dimorphism, dental wear patterns, and taphonomy and concludes that groups in Paranthropus robustus society were structured much like those in gorillas and orangutans. Below the fold you will find a list of links to other coverage of the story. I’m still trying to obtain a copy of the Science article and will have more to say when I have read it.

  • Male Ancestor Was Slow to Grow Up
  • How Our Ancestors Were Like Gorillas
  • Pre-Human Dating Scene Revealed
  • Pre-Human Dating Scene Was a Real Jungle
  • 7 Responses

    1. I’ve got a copy, I’m sending you a copy.

    2. I saw this one too; it looks interesting. I’m not sure I like so many news outlets saying that Paranthropus was our ancestor, though, as it somewhat confuses things.

    3. I notice one of the links is headed, “How Our Ancestors Were Like Gorillas”. I was certainly under the impression that Paranthropus was a side line to us but I suppose headlines are important when marketing articles. I’ve even read a book that claims Paranthropus may actually be gorilla ancestors but I believe that idea has not been widely accepted.

    4. Relationships are often debated, and most in the field have just stopped drawing arrows completely, but I don’t know a single person in the field who thinks that paranthropines were ancestral to humans. That’s just wrong.
      It’s kind of a running joke how every news article has at least one blatant distortion. National Geographic is surprisingly bad. BBC often has the best coverage, although they’ve had some doozies as well.

    5. Is there really anything to suggest that their social pattern wasn’t more like that of baboons? I’ve always thought of gorillas as somewhat regressed socially compared to the common ancestor, likewise the orangutan. Indeed, this regression may have occurred after the appearance and spread of Homo erectus and relatives.
      If the ancestors of the “great apes” were no larger than modern gibbons, which is in the same range as baboons, it would be plausible that the general social pattern was similar. This could plausibly have been the pattern of the common ancestor of apes and old world monkeys, with large variations in behavior and sexual dimorphism between, and even within, individual species.
      Gibbons, then, would have been forced into their high-altitude brachiating lifestyle by competition from Cercopithecine monkeys and “great apes”, perhaps especially erectus.

    6. I wasn’t all that fond of them labeling Paranthropus an ancestor either.

    7. Thanks for the links.

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