An early Australopithecus afarensis postcranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia

Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Bruce M. Latimer, Mulugeta Alene, Alan L. Deino, Luis Gibert, Stephanie M. Melillo, Beverly Z. Saylor, Gary R. Scott, C. Owen Lovejoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations

Abstract

Only one partial skeleton that includes both forelimb and hindlimb elements has been reported for Australopithecus afarensis. The diminutive size of this specimen (A.L. 288-1 ["Lucy"]) has hampered our understanding of the paleobiology of this species absent the potential impact of allometry. Here we describe a large-bodied (i.e., well within the range of living Homo) specimen that, at 3.58 Ma, also substantially antedates A.L. 288-1. It provides fundamental evidence of limb proportions, thoracic form, and locomotor heritage in Australopithecus afarensis. Together, these characteristics further establish that bipedality in Australopithecus was highly evolved and that thoracic form differed substantially from that of either extant African ape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12121-12126
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume107
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bipedality
  • Hominid
  • Human evolution
  • Thorax
  • Upright walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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