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.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Apple Watch NikeLab Limited Edition unveiled.
April 22, 2017, 6:20 AM
Motorola Moto G5 Pus – Well Worth Considering Over the Others
April 25, 2017, 7:06 AM
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 580 8GD5 – Great Value for the Money
April 20, 2017, 7:47 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Galaxy Note 8 – Available Second Half 2017
Apr 28, 2017, 7:30 AM
Google Android App – Huge improvement on Nighttime Photography
Apr 27, 2017, 7:40 AM
Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin has an Airship
Apr 26, 2017, 6:43 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus – Lots of Glass that Breaks Easily
Apr 25, 2017, 7:20 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 – Warning for Pet Owners
Apr 24, 2017, 5:59 AM
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information