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Comparative Study
, 58 (5), 374-405

Early Hominin Dental Remains From the Plio-Pleistocene Site of Drimolen, South Africa

Comparative Study

Early Hominin Dental Remains From the Plio-Pleistocene Site of Drimolen, South Africa

Jacopo Moggi-Cecchi et al. J Hum Evol.


The Plio-Pleistocene fossil hominin site of Drimolen is located approximately 5.5km north of the other well-known South African Plio-Pleistocene sites (Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, Coopers). It was discovered by A.W. Keyser in 1992. Systematic excavations led to the recovery of a remarkable number of fossil vertebrate taxa, including hominins. Most of the specimens collected consist of isolated teeth or those in jaws. The aim of this paper is to provide a morphological description of the dental specimens. The taxonomic allocation of each specimen is also reported, either confirming or revising previous provisional attributions. The analysis confirms the occurrence of two hominin species, Paranthropus robustus and Homo sp. With over 80 fossil hominin specimens recovered so far, Drimolen is the second largest sample of P. robustus, after Swartkrans. At Drimolen, P. robustus is represented mostly by craniodental specimens (63) among which are 47 isolated teeth and the remainder are maxillary and mandibular fragments with teeth. The assemblage markedly increases the dental sample of P. robustus. Furthermore, the Drimolen sample includes tooth classes not present in the Swartkrans or Kromdraai samples. The new tooth classes include both deciduous upper lateral incisors (DNH 31) and canines (DNH 23). In the dental sample described here there are nine specimens probably attributable to Homo, although a specific attribution is not yet possible. These specimens expand the small sample of early Homo from South African sites. Basic dimensions (MD and BL) of the Drimolen dental remains are compared in a preliminary analysis with other hominin samples. This analysis delineates the Drimolen P. robustus dental sample as characterized by smaller teeth overall than the Swartkrans sample (and in some cases also smaller than the Kromdraai sample), as well as a greater size range.

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