But a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis’ foot still had some apelike features
J. DeSilva and Cody Prang
Walking was afoot long ago among toddler-aged members of a hominid species best known for Lucy’s partial skeleton.
A largely complete, 3.3-million-year-old child’s foot from Australopithecus afarensis shows that the appendage would have aligned the ankle and knee under the body’s center of mass, a crucial design feature for upright walking, scientists report July 4 in Science Advances.
“The overall anatomy of this child’s foot is strikingly humanlike,” says study director Jeremy DeSilva, a paleoanthropologist at Dartmouth College in Hanover.
But the foot retains some hints of apelike traits. Compared with children today, for example, the A. afarensis child — only about 3 years old at the time of death — had toes more capable of holding onto objects or anyone who was carrying her, the team found. Those toes included a somewhat