Chimpanzee

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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 leopard (Panthera pardus). Image from Wikipedia. SK-54 is a curious fossil. The 1.5 million year old skullcap represents a juvenile Paranthropus robustus, one of the heavy-jawed hominins which lived in prehistoric South Africa, but there is something that makes this skull fragment particularly special. Near one of the sutures along the back of the…

An adult chimpanzee in Bossou, Guinea uses hammer and anvil stones to crack nuts as younger individuals look on. From Haslam et al., 2009. Before 1859 the idea that humans lived alongside the mammoths, ground sloths, and saber-toothed cats of the not-too-distant past was almost heretical. Not only was there no irrefutable evidence that our…