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New Prehuman Species

April 2, 2012 by WIARS divider image

Now it seems that Lucy shared eastern Africa with another prehuman species, one that may have spent more time in trees than on the ground.

A 3.4-million-year-old fossil foot found in Ethiopia appears to settle the long-disputed question of whether there was only a single line of hominins — species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees — between four million and three million years ago. The fossil record for that period had been virtually limited to the species Australopithecus afarensis, made famous by the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton.

Of perhaps more importance, scientists report in the journal Nature, published online Wednesday, the newfound foot not only belonged to a different species but also had evolved a distinctive mode of locomotion, which scientists described as “equivocal.” It clung to the trees and never adapted to terrestrial mobility outright.

The New York Times



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