Utility of the lateral meniscal notch in distinguishing hominin taxa
In humans, a notch marking the posterior attachment of the lateral meniscus is often visible on the posterior, lateral plateau of the tibia, adjacent to the intercondylar eminence. In theory, the presence or absence of this notch in dry bone can be used to differentiate the fossil remains of Australopithecus from those of the genus Homo. In a small-scale study, however, we found examples of modern human tibiae that appear not to have such a notch. In other cases, the morphology of the surrounding bone made it difficult to determine whether or not the notch was present. Although based on a small sample, this study questions: 1) the theoretical postulate that the lateral meniscal notch can be used to differentiate between hominin taxa, and 2) the practical reliability of determining the absence or presence of the notch in fossil remains.
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