Skeleton shows pre-human toddlers hid in trees for protection

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 8, 2018

Now, as studies turn the skeletal structure of her foot, these researchers are learning important information about how the children of our early ancestors lived and moved.

Now, analysis of the nearly complete skeleton of a female toddler from 3.3 million years ago has confirmed key details about how they walked. Alemseged is internationally known as a leading paleontologist on the study of human origins and human evolution.

"Placed at a critical time and the cusp of being human, Australopithecus afarensis was more derived than Ardipithecus (a facultative biped) but not yet an obligate strider like Homo erectus".

In 2002, the co-author of this study, Zeresenay Alemseged, who is also a professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, found the fossilized remains of an infant. The skeleton was initially dubbed "Lucy's baby" because of its close proximity to the adult female A. afarensis fossil named Lucy, found in 1974.

Image: The 3.3 million year old foot in different angles.

The analysis of that fossil provided crucial insight into the lives of our ancestors, but just recently, a group of researchers chose to focus on the tiny foot of the ancient skeleton in a bid to understand how their feet grew and were used. They examined what the foot would have been used for, how it developed and what it tells us about human evolution. The new study supports many previous studies that the foot in A. afarensis was adapted for upright walking and was largely human-like.

Millions of years ago, ancient humans had toddlers who not only walked in a bipedal manner but could climb trees. "But, walking poorly in a landscape full of predators is a recipe for extinction", explained DeSilva. "If you were living in Africa 3 million years ago without fire, without structures, and without any means of defense, you'd better be able get up in a tree when the sun goes down", added DeSilva.

Artist's depiction of a group of Australopithecus. Juvenile hominin fossils provide unique insights into how traits (like foot grasping) become less apparent as the individual grows into adulthood.

Scientists were divided on how much time our ancestors spent in the trees, and there is much debate about how humans first began to walk upright. Its physical appearance shows the capacities of A. afarensis and their behavior wrote the authors of the research in Science Advances on 4 July. This paper was authored by Jeremy M. DeSilva, Corey M. Gill, Thomas C. Prang, Miriam A. Bredella, Zeresenay Alemseged, et. all. and is distributed under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Her almost complete skeleton was discovered in the Dikika region of Ethiopia in 2002 by Zeresenay Alemseged, paleontologist and professor of organismal biology and anatomy and the University of Chicago.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE