Human Evolution

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 149–155

Size variation in the postcranium ofAustralopithecus afarensis and extant species of hominoidea

  • H. M. McHenry

DOI: 10.1007/BF02437491

Cite this article as:
McHenry, H.M. Hum. Evol. (1986) 1: 149. doi:10.1007/BF02437491


The postcranial sample ofA. afarensis can be divided into two size groups. Among the best preserved elements which are represented by both morphs are the distal femur, proximal ulna, and capitate. The difference between the large and small fossil femora is similar to the difference between average male and femaleG. gorilla andP. pygmaeus. The distal femora ofH. sapiens are less sexually dimorphic while those ofP. paniscus, P. troglodytes, andH. lar are not significantly dimorphic at all. Large and small capitates and proximal ulnae ofA. afarensis differ slightly more than the highly dimorphic species of extant Hominoidea. In my sample of Amerindians, the capitate and proximal ulna are also strongly dimorphic. The two species ofPan have insignificant sexual dimorphism in these traits.

There results imply that strong sexual dimorphism in body size is the primitive condition for the large bodied hominoids.

Key words

Australopithecus Hominoidea Postcranium Sexual Dimorphism 

Copyright information

© Editrice II Sedicesimo 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. McHenry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavis, CaliforniaUSA