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Morphological affinities of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Late Miocene hominid from Chad) cranium

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National Academy of Sciences
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PMC
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Abstract

The recent reconstruction of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis cranium (TM 266-01-60-1) provides an opportunity to examine in detail differences in cranial shape between this earliest-known hominid, African apes, and other hominid taxa. Here we compare the reconstruction of TM 266-01-60-1 with crania of African apes, humans, and several Pliocene hominids. The results not only confirm that TM 266-01-60-1 is a hominid but also reveal a unique mosaic of characters. The TM 266-01-60-1 reconstruction shares many primitive features with chimpanzees but overall is most similar to Australopithecus, particularly in the basicranium. However, TM 266-01-60-1 is distinctive in having the combination of a short subnasal region associated with a vertical upper face that projects substantially in front of the neurocranium. Further research is needed to determine the evolutionary relationships between Sahelanthropus and the known Miocene and Pliocene hominids.

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