Papio Cranium from the Hominin-Bearing Site of Malapa: Implications for the Evolution of Modern Baboon Cranial Morphology and South African Plio-Pleistocene Biochronology
A new partial cranium (UW 88-886) of the Plio-Pleistocene baboon Papio angusticeps from Malapa is identified, described and discussed. UW 88-886 represents the only non-hominin primate yet recovered from Malapa and is important both in the context of baboon evolution as well as South African hominin site biochronology. The new specimen may represent the first appearance of modern baboon anatomy and coincides almost perfectly with molecular divergence date estimates for the origin of the modern P. hamadryas radiation. The fact that the Malapa specimen is dated between ~2.026–2.36 million years ago (Ma) also has implications for the biochronology of other South African Plio-Pleistocene sites where P. angusticeps is found.