The Common Ancestor

A Study of the Postcranium of Pan paniscus, Australopithecus, and Other Hominoids
  • Henry M. McHenry
Part of the The Pygmy Chimpanzee book series (EBIO)


Pan paniscus is a fascinating animal in its own right, but what makes it especially dear to some of us is the possibility suggested in 1933 by Harold Coolidge and debated ever since that, “it may approach more closely to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and man than does any living chimpanzee hitherto discovered and described” (Coolidge, 1933, p. 56). If the pygmy chimpanzee resembles our common ancestor, then one might expect it to show a special resemblance to the earliest known hominids grouped in the genus Australopithecus. Fifty years ago Schwarz (1932) pointed out that it might be important in the interpretation of Australopithecus, and in 1934 he wrote, “the importance of this race is evident, as it presents analogies to Australopithecus, which appears to be only a dwarfed gorilla” (Schwarz, 1934, p. 583). All that was known of Australopithecus at that time was the juvenile skull and dentition of the Taung baby (Dart, 1925). Subsequently, the sample of these early hominids has increased to the point that we have several specimens of most joints of the postcranial skeleton and hundreds of individuals represented by teeth and crania.


Canonical Variate Distal Humerus Canonical Variate Analysis Early Hominid Fossil Hominid 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry M. McHenry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California at DavisDavisUSA

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