New footprint finds suggest range of body sizes for Lucy’s species | Science News

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New footprint finds suggest range of body sizes for Lucy’s species

Sign of tallest known Australopithecus afarensis individual unearthed in Tanzania

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1:04pm, December 16, 2016
A. afarensis footprints

BIG MARKS  Footprints of the largest known Australopithecus afarensis, dating to nearly 3.7 million years ago, have been found in hardened volcanic ash at Tanzania’s Laetoli site. These tracks run left to right.

Famous footprints of nearly 3.7-million-year-old hominids, found in 1976 at Tanzania’s Laetoli site, now have sizable new neighbors.

While excavating small pits in 2015 to evaluate the impact of a proposed field museum at Laetoli, researchers uncovered comparably ancient hominid footprints about 150 meters from the original discoveries. The new finds reveal a vast range of body sizes for ancient members of the human evolutionary family, reports an international team led by archaeologists Fidelis Masao and Elgidius Ichumbaki, both of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

A description of the new Laetoli footprints appears online December 14 in eLife.

Scientists exposed 14 hominid footprints, made by two individuals as they walked across wet volcanic ash. More than 500 footprints of ancient horses, rhinos, birds and other animals dotted the area around the hominid tracks. Like previously

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