The mixed dentition and associated skull fragments of a juvenile fossil hominid from Sterkfontein, South Africa

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1998 Aug;106(4):425-65. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199808)106:4<425::AID-AJPA2>3.0.CO;2-I.


In April-May 1983, the late A.R. Hughes and his field team recovered more than 40 bone fragments and teeth from a single solution pocket of the Sterkfontein Formation. After preparation and reconstruction by JMC, it was recognised that these fragments represent a single juvenile individual (Stw 151), consisting of more than 40 cranial and dental parts, with mixed dentition. It constitutes the most complete set of jaws and teeth of an early hominid child since the Taung child was recovered in 1924. In this paper, the morphological and metrical features of the individual teeth are described. The other associated skull fragments (right ramus of the mandible, left petrous bone, right glenoid region) are also described. Comparisons are made with other South (and East) African fossil hominids. The beautiful preservation simultaneously of most of the deciduous teeth and of the permanent teeth exposed in their crypts allows an accurate analysis of the developmental sequence. A report on the dental developmental status of this juvenile is presented. On the basis of the microanatomical study of the developing permanent teeth, the estimated age at death is 5.2-5.3 years. Reconstructions of the maxillary and mandibular arcades are also offered. The morphological and metrical features of Stw 151 raise the possibility that it may represent a hominid more derived towards an early Homo condition than the rest of the A. africanus sample from Member 4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dentition, Mixed*
  • Fossils
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • South Africa