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Young Australopithecus afarensis walks two feet, but still climbs tree

The human ancestors walked on two legs but their children still had plans to climb trees. Scientists report findings to Science Advances that more than 3 million years ago Australopithecus afarensis including their toddlers' children had stood using two legs and walked upright.

The tiny foot the size of a human thumb is part of a 3.32 million-year-old skeleton of A. afarensis discovered in 2002 at Dikika in Ethiopia by Zeresenay Alemseged of the University of Chicago. Small foot fossils are the same species as Lucy's fossils in the same area mistakenly labeled as "Lucy's baby", although this baby girl lived 200,000 years before Lucy.

Penelitian Young Australopithecus afarensis walks two feet, but still climbs tree

"Placed at a critical time and the culmination of being human, Australopithecus afarensis is more than Ardipithecus, but not yet a hero like Homo erectus. Dikika's foot adds to the knowledge of hominin mosaic and skeletal evolution," Alemseged said.

"These findings are very important to understand the diet and ecological adaptations of this species and are consistent with our previous research on other parts of the skeleton especially the shoulder blades," Alemseged said.

The research team reconstructed the child's life and how the ancestors survived including how to use the feet, how to develop and other things about human evolution. The fossil record shows that this ancient ancestor was adept at walking on two legs.

"For the first time, we have an incredible window on how to walk a 2.5-year-old more than 3 million years ago - this is the most complete leg of an ancient child ever found," said Jeremy DeSilva of Dartmouth College in Hanover .

LaporanPenelitian.com Young Australopithecus afarensis walks two feet, but still climbs tree

At the age of 2.5 years, Dikika has walked on two legs, although he still spends time in the trees and is dependent on the mother while looking for food. The leg structure of the child's legs, especially the base of the big toe may spend more time in the trees than the adults.

"If you lived in Africa 3 million years ago without fire, no structure and no defense, you'd better climb trees when the sun sets," DeSilva said.

Journal : Jeremy M. DeSilva et al. A nearly complete foot from Dikika, Ethiopia and its implications for the ontogeny and function of Australopithecus afarensis, Science Advances, 04 Jul 2018, DOI:10.1126/sciadv.aar7723

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