Have the hunting habits of leopards shaped primate evolution?
A leopard (Panthera pardus). Image from Wikipedia.
SK-54 is a curious fossil. The 1.5 million year old skullcap represents a juvenile Paranthropus robustus, one of the heavy-jawed hominins which lived in prehistoric South Africa, but there is something that makes this skull fragment particularly special. Near one of the sutures along the back of the skull are two neat puncture marks, the hallmark of a leopard.
Even though it was initially proposed that SK-54 had been murdered by another australopithecine wielding a weapon of bone or horn, in the late 1960’s the paleontologist C.K. Brain was able to demonstrate that the holes almost precisely fitted with the lower canine teeth of a leopard. What’s more, Brain