Feeds

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

New homonin fossil discovered

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.