Friday, March 30, 2012

Ancient human ancestor had feet like an ape

A fossil discovered in Ethiopia suggests that humans' prehistoric relatives may have lived in the trees for a million years longer than was previously thought.

The find may be our first glimpse of a separate, extinct, branch of the human family, collectively called hominins. It also hints that there may have been several evolutionary paths leading to feet adapted for walking upright.

The fossil, a partial foot, was found in 3.4-million-year-old rocks at Woranso-Mille in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Bones of the hominin Australopithecus afarensis — the species to which the famous 'Lucy' skeleton belongs — have also been found in this location and from the same period.

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