Navigation Links
Newly discovered foot points to a new kid on the hominin block
Date:3/30/2012

It seems that "Lucy" was not the only hominin on the block in northern Africa about 3 million years ago.

A team of researchers that included Johns Hopkins University geologist Naomi Levin has announced the discovery of a partial foot skeleton with characteristics (such as an opposable big toe bone) that don't match those of Lucy, the human ancestor (or hominin) known to inhabit that region and considered by many to be the ancestor of all modern humans.

The discovery is important because it provides first-ever evidence that at least two pre-human ancestors lived between 3 million and 4 million years ago in the Afar region of Ethiopia, and that they had different ways of moving around the landscape.

"The foot belonged to a hominin species -- not yet named -- that overlaps in age with Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis). Although it was found in a neighboring project area that is relatively close to the Lucy fossil site, it does not look like an A. afarensis foot," explains Levin, an assistant professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

A paper in the March 29 issue of Nature describes this foot, which is similar in some ways to the remains of another hominin fossil, called Ardipithecus ramidus, but which has different features.

Its discovery could shed light on how our ancestors learned to walk upright, according to Levin.

"What is clear is that the foot of the Burtele hominin was able to grasp items much better than its contemporary, A. afarensis, would have been able to do, which suggests that it was adept at moving around in trees," says Levin, who was part of a team led by Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History that also included researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the Berkeley Geochronology Center.

The finding is important, Levin says, because it shows that there is much more to learn about the role of locomotion in human evolution.

"This fossil makes the story of locomotion more complex, and it shows that we have a lot more to learn about how humans transitioned from moving around in trees to moving around on the ground -- on two legs.This fossil shows that some hominins may have been capable of doing both," she says.

The fossil, dated to approximately 3.4 million years ago, was discovered in 2009 in sediments along the Burtele drainage in the Afar region of Ethiopia that is now very hot and dry. The researchers believe the area was wetter and more wooded when the Burtele hominin lived, based on its deltaic sedimentary context, results from isotopic studies and the range of fossil animals found near the site.

"We're just at the beginning of understanding the environmental context for this important fossil. It will be a critical part of understanding this hominin, its habitat and the role that the environment played in its evolution," she says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Lisa DeNike
Lde@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Newly-discovered mechanism can explain the Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
2. Newly identified gene powerful predictor of colon cancer metastasis
3. Newly found enzymes may play early role in cancer
4. Obesity starts in the head? 6 newly discovered genes for obesity have a neural effect
5. UC Davis research shows that newly discovered drug reduces heart enlargement
6. Newly described contaminant sources in Katrina-flooded homes pose health risks
7. DNA evidence is in, newly discovered species of fish dubbed H. psychedelica
8. Newly discovered gene plays vital role in cancer
9. Newly discovered epidermal growth factor receptor active in human pancreatic cancers
10. Newly discovered reactions from an old drug may lead to new antibiotics
11. Newly discovered snow roots are evolutionary phenomenon
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Newly discovered foot points to a new kid on the hominin block
(Date:1/20/2016)... LONDON , Jan. 20, 2016 A ... positioned to directly benefit from the explosion in genomics ... from Howe Sound Research. A range of dynamic trends ... ...... - personalized medicine - pharmacogenomics - pathogen ... economies with large markets - greater understanding of the ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Jan. 20, 2016 ... leading developer of human interface solutions, today announced ... touch controller solution for wearables and small screen ... appliances such as printers. Supporting round and rectangular ... the S1423 offers excellent performance with moisture on ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... , Jan. 15, 2016 Recent publicized ... small to find new ways to ensure data security ... iOS and Android that ties ... biometrics, transforming it into a hardware authorization token. Customer ... swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled device to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 11, ... ... business-to-business publication dedicated to delivering cutting-edge information focused on the development and ... Sciences to become a premier sponsor of the 2016 BioProcess International Awards ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Florida , February 11, 2016 ... PositiveID Corporation ("PositiveID" or "Company") (OTCQB: PSID), a ... announced today that its Thermomedics subsidiary, which markets ... on its growth plan in January 2016, including ... distributors, increasing sequential monthly sales growth, and establishing ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... 11, 2016 , ... Reichert Technologies, which has created advanced ... the highest level of accuracy and quality with the addition of two new ... Refractometer. Accurate, reliable and tough enough for the most demanding applications, these ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... 11, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group, ... Ecuador. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and state-of-the-art techniques in cellular ... , The new GSCG clinic is headed by four prominent Ecuadorian physicians, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: