Feeds

Lucy in 3.4 million-year-old cross-species cave tryst

New homonin fossil discovered

The Power of One Infographic

The statement from the abstract is as prosaic as it gets: “A newly discovered partial hominin foot skeleton from eastern Africa indicates the presence of more than one hominin locomotor adaptation at the beginning of the Late Pliocene epoch.”

The implication, however, is profound: potentially a new species of hominin has been discovered in 3.4 million-year-old Ethiopian fossils, launching either a new direction in the study of human evolution, or at the very least, a fabulous argument about whether the fossils are or are not a separate species.

A new study published in Nature suggests that Lucy – the female specimen famous for identifying Australopithecus afarensis – didn’t represent the only line of hominins.

Unlike Australopithecus afarensis, the as-yet-unnamed specimen retains a characteristic not of upright-walking humans but a tree-dweller: an opposable big toe, designed for grasping tree branches.

According to the New York Times, the foot is similar to those of the species Ardipithecus ramidus, known from 4.4 million-year-old fossils from Ethiopia.

Of key importance in the find is that it demonstrates that humans probably didn’t take a single path to bipedal locomotion; rather, various lines seem to have evolved, with only one – us – the eventual winning line. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.