Ontogeny and phylogeny of the pelvis in Gorilla, Pongo, Pan, Australopithecus and Homo.
To examine the evolutionary differences between hominoid locomotor systems, a number of observations concerning the growth of the pelvis among the great apes as compared to modern and fossil hominids are reported. We are interested in the size and shape of the coxal bones at different developmental stages across species that may elucidate the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny (i.e., heterochrony) in the hominoid pelvis. Our hypotheses are: (1) do rates of absolute growth differ?, (2) do rates of relative growth differ?, and (3) does heterochrony explain these differences? Bivariate and multivariate analyses of pelvic dimensions demonstrate both the diversity of species-specific ontogenetic patterns among hominoids, and an unequivocal separation of hominids and the great apes. Heterochrony alone fails to account for the ontogenetic differences between hominids and the great apes. Compared to recent Homo,Australopithecus can be described as 'hyper-human' from the relative size of the ischium, and short but broad ilium. Australopithecus afarensis differs from Australopithecus africanus by its relatively long pubis. In multivariate analyses of ilium shape, the most complete coxal bone attributed to Homo erectus, KNM-ER 3228, falls within the range of juvenile and adult Australopithecus, whereas Broken Hill falls within the range of modern Homo, suggesting that the modern human ilium shape arose rather recently. Among the great apes, patterns of pelvic ontogeny do not exclusively separate the African apes from Pongo.