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:6/30/2017)... Va. , June 30, 2017 ... leading developer and supplier of face and eye ... ATA Featured Product provider program. ... an innovative way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness ... greatly from being able to detect fatigue and ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) is introducing ... event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and global businesses, ... 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase the solutions ... various industries. France ... market, with a 30 percent increase in the number of ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ... age and identity verification solutions, announced today they will ... 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... International Trade Center. Identity impacts the ... in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... , ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... into a different cell type. Many treatments for specific cancers, such as breast, ... of targeted treatment is androgen deprivation therapy for advanced prostate cancer. , ...
(Date:8/16/2017)...  This year,s edition of the Inc. 5000 features a now-familiar name: ... has made the list for the third year in a row. Now ... companies based on a set of quantitative metrics. In addition, BioPoint was ... in the Bay State . ... Inc. 5000 ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... accelerate pharmaceutical and biotherapeutics development, announces the launch of the new NHS ... to gain kinetic binding data for a wide range of molecules, including small ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... for the first time on Immuno-Oncology 360° (IO360°) programming through a series of upcoming ... to be held February 7-9, 2018, at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: