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Scientists unearth world's oldest biped skeleton in Ethiopia

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posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 07:29 AM
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) - A joint Ethiopian-US team of paleontologists announced they had discovered the world's oldest biped skeleton to be unearthed so far, dating it to between 3.8 and four million years old.

"This is the world's oldest biped," Bruce Latimer, director of the natural history museum in Cleveland, Ohio, told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, adding that "it will revolutionize the way we see human evolution."

The bones were found three weeks ago in Ethiopia's Afar region, at a site some 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Hadar where Lucy, one of the first hominids, was discovered in 1974.

The Leakey Foundation, which funded the team who found Lucy, dates her 40 percent intact skeleton back 2.8 million years, but other paleontological sources have said she may be as old as 3.2 million years.

Latimer and his Ethiopian colleague D. Yohannes Haile-Selassie said the newly discovered skeleton had been determined to be capable of walking upright on two feet because of the nature of the ankle bone.

"I couldn't explain in detail how it walked yet," Latimer said, "but looking at the ankle we know it is a biped."

This was the "revolutionary" aspect of the discovery, the scientists told journalists, in that it would help them learn how species like those from which modern mankind, homo sapiens, descended first learned to walk on two feet.

"This skeleton helps us to understand what happened in the joints, how walking upright occurred, what we never had before," Latimer said.

Researchers at the site in northeast Ethiopia have in all unearthed 12 hominid fossils, of which parts of one skeleton were discovered.

"Portions recovered thus far include a complete tibia, parts of a femur, ribs, vertebrae, a clavicle, pelvis, and a complete scapula of an adult," Latimer said.

"Normally, you find one bone or two from an individual and you are happy. Now we have found parts of a skeleton, this is very rare," he explained. "It says a lot more on the individual than isolated bones."

"It is already clear that the individual was larger than Lucy, it has longer legs than Lucy... but it is older which is strange," he added.

Haile Selassie, a paleontologist from the national museum in Addis Ababa, said "we have hundreds of pieces that have to be reconstructed and we haven't finished excavating."

The skeleton was the fourth ancient hominid to be found since Lucy, with others discovered in Ethiopia and in South Africa.

The researchers have yet to determine the species and sex of the latest discovery.

[edit on 5/3/2005 by Schmidt1989]

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 07:39 AM
Very, very you have a link? Also...did I miss it (I just got up) did it mention anything about how old this may be, besides "older than Lucy"?

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 07:43 AM
Here's one


edit: text

[edit on 5-3-2005 by sanctum]

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 07:46 AM
link" target="_blank" class="postlink"> Scientists unearth world's oldest biped skeleton in Ethiopia

[edit on 5/3/2005 by Schmidt1989]

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 08:12 AM
link you ever check out "Archaeologica Daily" I check it out every couple of days....there have a forum too...

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 09:00 AM
thata pretty cool, i also like the archeological finds in egypt especially when they find hidden things like dorrs or compartments.

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 10:42 AM
This specimin is c.f. 4 million years old. To give some context, here is some information, all from:

Sahelanthropus tchadensis
6 and 7 million years old [...] This species is known from a nearly complete cranium nicknamed Toumai, and a number of fragmentary lower jaws and teeth. The skull has a very small brain size of approximately 350 cc. It is not known whether it was bipedal.

Orrorin tugenensis
The fossils include fragmentary arm and thigh bones, lower jaws, and teeth and were discovered in deposits that are about 6 million years old[...]Its finders have claimed that Orrorin was a human ancestor adapted to both bipedality and tree climbing, and that the australopithecines are an extinct offshoot. Given the fragmentary nature of the remains, other scientists have been skeptical of these claims so far (Aiello and Collard 2001). A later paper (Galik et al. 2004) has found further evidence of bipedality in the fossil femur.

Ardipithecus ramidus
It was originally dated at 4.4 million years, but has since been discovered to far back as 5.8 million years. Most remains are skull fragments. Indirect evidence suggests that it was possibly bipedal[...] Other fossils found with ramidus indicate that it may have been a forest dweller. This may cause revision of current theories about why hominids became bipedal, which often link bipedalism with a move to a savannah environment. (White and his colleagues have since discovered a ramidus skeleton which is about 45% complete, but have not yet published on it.) [...] More recently, a number of fragmentary fossils discovered [...]Ardipithecus kadabba (Haile-Selassie et al. 2004). One of these fossils is a toe bone belonging to a bipedal creature, but is a few hundred thousand years younger than the rest of the fossils and so its identification with kadabba is not as firm as the other fossils.

Australopithecus anamensis
Anamensis existed between 4.2 and 3.9 million years ago, and has a mixture of primitive features in the skull, and advanced features in the body. The teeth and jaws are very similar to those of older fossil apes. A partial tibia (the larger of the two lower leg bones) is strong evidence of bipedality

Australopithecus afarensis ["Lucy" is an australpithecus afarensis]
3.9 and 3.0 million years ago[...]However their pelvis and leg bones far more closely resemble those of modern man, and leave no doubt that they were bipedal (although adapted to walking rather than running )

Image source page

There is also a timeline at the bottom of that page

posted on Mar, 5 2005 @ 10:49 AM
Lady V thanks for the link to that archaelogical news site - I just marked it as a favorite. I have been dying to find something online that was credible yet current.

posted on Mar, 6 2005 @ 05:03 PM
wow thats old, my old neigbor used to jumprope at like 85.

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