Pharyngula

3.3 million years old, 3 years old

Say hello to Selam, or DIK-1-1, a new and very well preserved member of the family discovered in Dikika, Ethiopia. She belongs to the species Australopithicus afarensis and is being called Lucy’s little sister.

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She was only a toddler when she died about 3.3 million years ago, and from the teeth the authors estimate that she was about 3 years old. Most of the skeleton is intact, but doesn’t seem to have yet been fully extracted from the matrix.

Some of the surprises: the hyoid bone is chimpanzee-like, and implies chimp-like vocalization abilities. She had a long way to go before she could have a conversation. The fingers are long and curved, and the scapula is more gorilla-like than ours; there is a suggestion of better arboreal ability than we have.


Alemseged Z, Spoor F, Kimbel WH, Bobe R, Geraads D, Reed D, Wynn JG (2006) A juvenile early hominin skeleton from Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature 443:296-301.