Osteopathology and insect traces in the Australopithecus africanus skeleton StW 431

Edward J. Odes*, Alexander H. Parkinson, Patrick S. Randolph-Quinney, Bernhard Zipfel, Kudakwashe Jakata, Heather Bonney, Lee R. Berger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We present the first application of high-resolution micro computed tomography in an analysis of both the internal and external morphology of the lumbar region of StW 431 - a hominin skeleton recovered from Member 4 infill of the Sterkfontein Caves (South Africa) in 1987. The lumbar vertebrae of the individual present a number of proliferative and erosive bony processes, which were investigated in this study. Investigations suggest a complex history of taphonomic alteration to pre-existing spinal degenerative joint disease (SDJD) as well as post-mortem modification by an unknown insect. This study is in agreement with previous pathological diagnoses of SDJD which affected StW 431 and is the first time insect traces on this hominin are described. The results of this analysis attest to the complex series of post-mortem processes affecting the Sterkfontein site and its fossil assemblages.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSouth African Journal of Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Osteopathology and insect traces in the Australopithecus africanus skeleton StW 431'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this