Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lucy and Big Man

Discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by Donald Johansen and Tom Gray, the early hominid fossil known as Lucy was estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago and for may years represented the oldest and most complete example of an ancient human ancestor. But this 40% complete example of the hominid species Australopithecus afarensis was most significant because her skeleton showed evidence of not only a small skull capacity, but the structure of her pelvis also revealed that she most likely spent the majority of her time walking on two legs. These discoveries helped to confirm, or at least bolster the theory that our ancestors had developed the ability to walk upright before gaining a larger brain capacity rather than after.

In 2000 an even more complete example of Australopithecus was discovered in the form of a nearly complete juvenile specimen and now there is a third and even older bipedal ancestor to add to the list "Big man".

Discovered in Ethiopia's Afar region in 2005 Big Man has once again pushed back the time when our ancestors first walked upright by another 400,000 years and though he only stood around 5 to 5-and-a-half feet, he still would have towered over the diminutive Lucy who was only 3ft 6in. New details gleamed from Big Man's remains, in particular the shape of his shoulder blade and the length of his legs, show that he shared more physical characteristics with modern humans rather than chimps, a fact which contradicts traditional thought on the evolution of hominids into modern humans but which follows similar evidence observed in the remains of what is to date the oldest known human ancestor, the fossil known as "Ardi" who lived an estimated 4.4 million years ago.

Links And Additional Content
Read more about the discovery the Afarensis child in 2000 HERE and for more about Big Man go HERE.

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