Robust australopithecines represent a parallel evolutionary history to our own, and hold the potential to further contextualize our human story within a more holistic landscape of hominin evolution. Yet, the three recognized species of robust australopithecines have long remained mysterious to us. They are still at the center of conflicting phylogenetic claims and contradictory ecological interpretations after decades of consideration, and despite the feasibility of applying more advanced computational methods of analysis and interpretation.
It’s time to re-evaluate the robust australopithecines in the light of modern analytical methods and stronger methodological parameters, and Para\doxes forms the integrative framework required for unprecedented insight. Encompassing a combination of high-resolution imaging, landmark-based geometric morphometrics, and novel analytical methods, enhanced review and assessment will be possible. This includes current hypodigms and the intraspecies variation stemming from them, as well as key phylogenetic and environmental hypotheses.
Given the synchronic nature of robust australopithecines with other early hominin taxa, results will have vital implications on our knowledge of the phylogenetic relationships between South and East African hominins, and our understanding of their morphological and evolutionary plasticity.