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Sexual dimorphism can be one of the most important indicators of social behavior in fossil species, but the effects of time averaging, geographic variation, and differential preservation can complicate attempts to determine this measure from preserved skeletal anatomy. Here we present an alternative, using footprints from near Ileret, Kenya, to assess the sexual dimorphism of presumptive African Homo erectus at 1.5 Ma. Footprint sites have several unique advantages not typically available to fossils: a single surface can sample a population over a very brief time (in this case likely not more than a single day), and the data are geographically constrained. Further, in many cases, the samples can be much larger than those from skeletal fossil assemblages. Our results indicate that East African Homo erectus was more dimorphic than modern Homo sapiens, although less so than highly dimorphic apes, suggesting that the Ileret footprints offer a unique window into an important transitional period in hominin social behavior.
Archaeological Anthropology | Gender and Sexuality | History of Gender
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Hatala, K. G.,
Sexual Dimorphism in Homo erectus Inferred from 1.5 Ma Footprints Near Ileret, Kenya.
Scientific Reports, 9