Subnasal morphological variation in extant hominoids and fossil hominids

Melanie A. McCollum, Frederick E. Grine, Steven C. Ward, William Kimbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Over 30 years ago, Robinson identified differences in subnasal morphology among Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus and Homo erectus. Subsequently, the early hominid sample has been expanded and thus warrants a reappraisal of subnasal morphological variation, in order to assess the validity of features utilized in earlier taxonomic studies. This study provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of subnasal morphology in samples of extant great apes and humans, and in all currently available African hominid specimens that historically have been referred to Australopithecus, Paranthropus, H. erectus and Homo habilis. Results indicate that morphological patterns sort among extant and fossil hominoid taxa. The identification of these patterns has systematic significance and they may be utilized in the taxonomic allocation of fossil hominid specimens. No single morphological pattern characterizes the early Homo sample, an observation that is consistent with other investigations that have noted the variability displayed by this sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-111
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • Australopithecus
  • Homo
  • Paranthropus
  • Patterns
  • Systematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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