Lucy's Family is Complete: Hominid Trio Offer Insight Into Human Evolution
June 22, 2010 10:38 AM
An artist's scupting of A. afarensis, based on the earlier Lucy skeleton.
(Source: Educa Madrid)
The bones of "Big Man"
(Source: Y. Haile Selassie et al./PNAS 2010)
"Whatever we’ve been saying about afarensis based on Lucy was mostly wrong."
Much like the revolution of modern astronomy in the late 1400s and early 1500s dissolved the notion that the Sun revolved around the Earth, a renaissance in paleontology is dissolving virtually any doubt that remained about man's origins. Another new discovery has just been completed, the latest of several high profile publications over only the last year.
is a male
, which has been discovered in Ethiopia’s Afar region. The skeleton joins the celebrated "Lucy" skeleton, unearthed by paleoanthropologists in 1974, and a child skeleton unearthed last year.
The ancient male, an ancestor of modern man, lived approximately 3.6 million years ago in the plains of Eastern Africa, according to several dating techniques. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who led the team, says the skeleton offers some major new insights into the species.
The skeleton has been nicknamed "Big Man" as it towers at 5 to 5½ feet tall over the much shorter 3½-foot-tall Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago. That large height deviation raises questions over which of the specimen is the norm in terms of height. The new skeleton was unearthed between 2005 and 2008 at a dig site only 48 km from where Lucy was found.
The skeleton also reveals new insights into the bone structure of the species. Big Man's 32 discovered bones reveal long legs, a narrow chest, and a inwardly curving back. All of these indicate that he walked much like a human and enjoyed a ground-based lifestyle. This is very different from the awkward gait that Lucy was thought to have. Lucy also had been thought to climb trees a great deal.
The shoulder blade of Big Man is quite different from chimpanzees or gorillas. And the ribs also appear human-like. All of these factors indicate a far different chest shape than the chimplike, funnel-shaped chest that reconstructions of the Lucy skeleton indicated.
While confusing perhaps in context with Lucy, the conclusion that ancient hominids were
chimplike is consistent with the analysis of the
that was conducted last year.
Professor Haile-Selassie states, "Whatever we’ve been saying about
based on Lucy was mostly wrong. The skeletal framework to enable efficient two-legged walking was established by the time her species had evolved."
Carol Ward of the University of Missouri in Columbia seems to agree with these conclusions, stating, "This beautiful
specimen confirms the unique skeletal shape of this species at a larger size than Lucy, in what appears to be a male."
While the discovery may have cleared up debate about whether Lucy was more chimplike or humanlike, the debate about gait is sure to continue. Harvard University anthropologist Daniel Lieberman states, "There’s nothing special I can see on this new find that will change anyone’s opinion."
Anthropologist Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University, however, believes that the discovery shows Big Man to be a good runner, which could have made the 3.6-million-year-old footprints found more than 30 years ago at Laetoli, Tanzania. Among the evidence supporting this hypothesis are Big Man's pelvis supported humanlike hamstring muscles and human-like arched feet.
The full study on the Big Man discovery is published
in the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
A separate 3.3 million year old skeleton of a 3-year-old baby female
was presented four years ago. Nicknamed "Selam" (the word for "peace" in several African languages), the near-complete skeleton was found in 2000 south of the Awash river by a team led by Zeresenay Alemseged of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
The paper on that discovery was published in a 2006 edition of
and can be found
These discoveries add to the aforementioned recent discovery of "Ardi", the
, and the completion of an early
draft of the Neanderthal genome
. All of these wonderful discoveries have helped to blow away the fog of uncertainty surrounding human evolution and offered a much clearer picture of how man arrived at its current form after a slow process of evolution that took millions of years.
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
Neanderthal Genome Complete; Provides Evidence of Evolution, Interbreeding
May 7, 2010, 10:47 AM
"Sinful" Missing Human Evolutionary Ancestor Discovered in Africa
April 9, 2010, 9:46 AM
Close to the Missing Link -- Oldest Human Ancestor Discovered
October 2, 2009, 9:11 AM
Cyber Hackers Threaten Security of Lifesaving Medical Devices
October 19, 2016, 8:09 AM
Innovative Neurotechnology in Sound Therapy Reduces High Blood Pressure and Migraines
October 16, 2016, 5:00 AM
Researchers Move Closer to Breakthrough Gene Therapy to Cure Sickle Cell
October 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
Keytruda: A breakthrough treatment to increase survival rates for lung cancer patients
October 12, 2016, 5:00 AM
CDC Warning about Record High Increases in 2016 for Polio-like Illness causing Paralysis
October 9, 2016, 5:00 AM
Hypertension in children impacts cognitive performance
October 5, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Problems with Windows 10 – Update Now
October 15, 2016, 7:30 AM
End of the Road for the Audi R8 e-tron
October 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Is Razer Blade Stealth Laptop For You?
October 16, 2016, 5:00 AM
Bluetooth Saves Lives
October 16, 2016, 7:05 AM
IBM – Cloud Object Storage Cheaper than Amazon S3
October 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Nasa Flies Drones at Nevada Airport
Oct 21, 2016, 8:21 AM
T-Mobile Data Problems
Oct 20, 2016, 10:17 AM
Annoying Apple Watch Problems and How to Fix Them
Oct 20, 2016, 5:00 AM
Your Mail May Soon Be Delivered By Robot
Oct 19, 2016, 9:34 AM
2018 Jeep Wrangler Prototype Sells At Junkyard
Oct 18, 2016, 5:00 AM
Samsung Shines with Gold Edition Tablet
Oct 17, 2016, 9:24 AM
Tesla Hints Mysterious Product Debut for October 17th
Oct 16, 2016, 10:14 AM
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones on US flights
Oct 15, 2016, 5:00 AM
Comcast Fined $2.3 Million For Unconfirmed Services Charged To Customers
Oct 14, 2016, 5:00 AM
“American singer / songwriter “Bob Dylan is awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Oct 13, 2016, 10:33 AM
Battery Defect in Medical Device
Oct 12, 2016, 5:00 AM
IBM Bolsters Social Services Sector With Technology Grants
Oct 11, 2016, 5:00 AM
Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate but US Still Toys With Skepticism
Oct 10, 2016, 5:00 AM
IMEX America Trade Show
Oct 9, 2016, 10:00 AM
Phone Wars – Google VS Samsung Free Gifts on Purchase
Oct 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Member of Parliament’s opposition car exploded in Tbilist capital of Georgia
Oct 5, 2016, 2:52 PM
US Government Cuts Cord On Internet Oversight
Oct 3, 2016, 10:34 AM
Are farm children less likely to have allergies and asthma in adulthood?
Sep 30, 2016, 5:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information