Foot fossil pegs hominid kids as upright walkers 3.3 million years ago | Science News

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Foot fossil pegs hominid kids as upright walkers 3.3 million years ago

But a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis’ foot still had some apelike features

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2:50pm, July 4, 2018
foot fossil

TINY WALKER  A fossil of an ancient hominid child’s foot (shown here from different angles) suggests that members of Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, walked upright early in life.  

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

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