New dating suggests species lived during same era as Lucy
Lucy’s species, an East African hominid line called Australopithecus afarensis, had a South African counterpart, a new study finds.
A nearly complete fossil skeleton from South Africa’s Sterkfontein Caves dates to 3.67 million years ago, making it roughly 1 million years older than any other South African hominid, say geochemist Darryl Granger of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and his colleagues. Dubbed Little Foot by one of its discoverers, the skeleton represents a species originally proposed for fossils at a nearby site in 1948, Australopithecus prometheus, the scientists contend in the April 2 Nature.
Previous estimates of the specimen’s age ranged from roughly 3 million to 2 million years ago. The new date, if correct, would make Little Foot contemporary with Lucy’s species, which lived in East Africa from about 4 million to 3 million years ago.