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Posts Tagged "Australopithecus"

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Popular special edition adapted for eBook format: Becoming Human: Our Past, Present and Future*

Becoming Human cover

We humans are a strange bunch. We have self-awareness and yet often act on impulses that remain hidden. We were forged in adversity but live in a world of plenty. Who are we? What is to become of us? To these age-old questions, science has in recent years brought powerful tools and reams of data. [...]

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Observations

Debate Flares over Identity of Celebrated Human Fossils

Australopithecus sediba lower jaws

CALGARY—In 2010 paleoanthropologists announced to great fanfare that they had recovered from a South African cave two partial skeletons of a previously unknown member of the human family that lived nearly two million years ago. The skeletons—a young male and an adult female referred to as MH1 and MH2, respectively–were said to exhibit a striking melange [...]

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Observations

3.3-Million-Year-Old Baby Shows Lucy’s Species Hung Out in Trees

Selam, a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis specimen

The advent of upright walking was a really big deal in human evolution. Scientists have posited that it allowed our ancestors to see above the savanna grass (the better to spot predators and prey), to carry tools and food and babies, to travel long distances more efficiently and to better strut their stuff for potential [...]

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Observations

Early human fossils from South Africa could upend long-held view of human evolution

MINNEAPOLIS—It’s a great irony of paleoanthropology that for all the insights scientists have been able to glean from the fossil record about our early ancestors, the australopithecines (Lucy and her kin), they have precious little to document the origin of our own genus, Homo. They know that Homo descended from one of those australopithecine species [...]

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Observations

New fossil shows “Lucy” to have been steady on her feet

lucy human ancestor foot bone modern walking

At some point in the past five million years or so, our human ancestors traded in an arboreal existence for a dedicated two-legged life on the ground. A patchy fossil record, however, has frustrated researchers hoping to pinpoint the emergence of more modern human upright walking.  Even the gait of the well-studied "Lucy" species, Australopithecus [...]

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Observations

Did big babies help bring human ancestors down from the trees?

smaller chimpanzee baby riding on mother

Relative to our ape brethren, humans give birth to really big babies. This especially substantial infant size—along with newborns’ large heads and general helplessness—helped to spur the development of more advanced social systems to help mother and child safe, researchers think. A new study examines the evolution of this trend to try to pinpoint when [...]

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