n Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History - A burned primate cuboid from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa

Volume 7 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2220-4563



We describe a newly recognized partial right cuboid (catalogued as SKX 31899) of a medium-sized primate that derives from Member 3, a 0.96 ± 0.09-million-year-old sedimentary unit of the Swartkrans Formation (South Africa). Due to its fragmentary condition, we can provide only a basic interpretation of its functional morphology and, taxonomically, are unable to assign it definitively below the parvorder Catarrhini.However, based on the known fossil record of this primate group at Swartkrans, the bone is that of either a cercopithecoid or a hominin; moreover, for measurable taxonomically salient features, SKX 31899 is more similar to the cuboids of the latter taxon than to those of the former.For that reason and with an appreciation that improved diagnostic methods might one day allow assignment of the specimen more definitively to at least the family-level, we enter the fossil into the published record of potential hominins.Of additional interest, the fossil is part of a sample of burned bones that has been interpreted as evidence that early Pleistocene hominins controlled fire at Swartkrans Cave.

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