Lucy's cousin – missing link coexisted with another prehistoric human ancestor

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Our ancestor, Lucy, shared the earth wit h another pre-human species millions of years ago. The discovery of a 3.4-million-year-old pre-human foot fossils found in Ethiopia shows that Lucy, an Austrolopithecus afarensis, coexisted with an unnamed hominid during her time.

Although this species of pre-human did walk upright, Lucy’s newly identified neighbor appears to have spent more time swinging from trees to trees.

As our prehistoric ancestor “Lucy” was making tracks in eastern Africa millions of years ago, another type of pre-human might have been watching from above, a new study suggests. Analysis of the newfound foot suggests its owner had an apelike gait and spent a good deal of time in the trees.

Discovered in the Burtele area of the Afar region in 2009, the fossil foot has a separated, thumblike big toe—perfect for climbing and grasping branches of prehistoric trees in Ethiopia. The foot of this creature appears to be somewhere between those of other hominids and apes, although the curiously elongated bone of the fourth toe resembles that of monkey’s.

Because the toe bones have joints and ends that would have allowed the species to hyperextend its toes to push off while walking, this new species is theorized to be a more adapted to walking bipedally than chimpanzee but not as good in walking as Lucy because of the presence of thumblike big toe.

“This looks very much like the same kind of foot, but it’s a million years younger, so that lineage of hominins didn’t go extinct when the australopithecines evolved—they continued to be there,” he said.
“The same time Lucy and her kin were walking upright … there were other hominins walking in a very different manner,” Lieberman added.

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