Australopithecus afarensis

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The skeletons of Lucy (left) and Kadanuumuu (right). Both belong to the early human species Australopithecus afarensis. (Images not to scale.) I never fully appreciated how small Lucy was until I saw her bones for myself. Photographs and restorations of her and her kin within the species Australopithecus afarensis had never really given me a…

A comparison of three-dimensional scans of hominin footprints. Top) A footprint made by an experimental subject using a normal, “extended” gait. Middle) A footprint made by an experimental subject using a “bent-knee, bent-hip” gait. Bottom) A Laetoli footprints. From Raichlen et al., 2010. About 3.6 million years ago, at a spot now in Laetoli, Tanzania,…

Laetoli at ~3.5 mya

In 1978, a paleoanthropological team including Mary Leakey, Richard Hay, and Tim White made a startling discovery at Laetoli, Tanzania; in a bed of volcanic ash that would later be dated to about 3.5 million years old were the footprints of ancient hominids. The preserved trackway, found to contain the footprints of three individuals of…