Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Paranthropus Broom, 1938

Generic nomen assigned to a group of robust South African fossil hominids; literally, beside or equal-to-man, nextto-man. Paranthropines are distinguished by relatively smaller incisors and canines, relatively larger premolars and molars, a shorter snout and flatter face, more robust zygomatics and presence of a sagittal crest (both sexes), and a flatter forehead with dished face that is hafted high on the neurocranium. There is no trace of a chin; the strongly developed root systems are set in massive bone; the areas of support and the channels of dissipation of the forces generated by chewing are well developed. The total lack of a true forehead and the relatively great postorbital constriction make the brow ridges seem massive and projecting, although in fact they are not especially strongly developed. The paranthropines have an encephalization quotient equivalent to that of a modern ape. The craniofacial specialization, along with increased tooth wear, led Robinson to conclude that Paranthropus was a plant eater, and the presence of grit in the diet suggested the consumption of roots and bulbs. Aka robust australopithecines.

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