Lucas Delezene

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arkansas, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-712

Approve Date

March 4, 2016

Project Title

Delezene, Dr. Lucas, U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR - To aid workshop on 'The Dentition of Homo Naledi: External/Internal Morphology, Growth, & Implications for Hominin Systematics & Dental Evolution,' 2016, Wits, South Africa, with Dr. Matthew Skinner

How are new hominin species recognized? The nearly 1600 fossils from Rising Star, South Africa are diverse, both demographically and skeletally, and have all been assigned to the new hominin species Homo naledi. For some, doubts linger about erecting a new species for this assemblage. Among the fossils are nearly 200 teeth representing at least 15 individuals. The abundant teeth provide incredible opportunities to address issues of taxonomy and development. This workshop will: 1) bring together international dental scholars; 2) facilitate investigations of growth and anatomy by sharing high-resolution microtomographic scans; 3) address approaches for delineating hominin species; and 4) generate publications intended for a special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution. Workshop organizers have CT-scanned all of the H. naledi teeth and made them available to participants. Holding the workshop at the Evolutionary Studies Institute in Johannesburg facilitates comparisons between H. naledi, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus, and early Homo. A comprehensive database of dental variation, sorely lacking for most hominin species due to their extremely small sample sizes, will be produced to establish a benchmark of crown formation times, eruption sequences, and crown and root morphology; thus, allowing for a reassessment of species diversity within genus Homo.