The new research, published in the journal Nature, examined a leg bone and two arm bones from seven-million-year-old remains. Scientists concluded that they suggest early hominins were bipedal and, at the same time, had ape-like climbing ability. Photo by sarangib/Pixabay
Aug. 25 (UPI) — Researchers say that a study of fossils that are millions of years old indicates something unique about humans’ oldest known ancestors — they walked on two legs but could climb trees like an ape.
The study was done on the fossilized remains of what’s known as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which were discovered two decades ago in central Africa. The remains are believed to be about 7 million years old.
The discovery had a significant impact. It altered the ancestral line of hominids — the line leading to Homo sapiens — by a million years.
The new research, published in the journal Nature, examined a leg bone and two arm bones from the remains. Scientists concluded that they suggest early hominins were bipedal and, at the same time, had ape-like climbing ability.
The fossils of Sahelanthropus tchadensis may be the very oldest non-ape known hominin, a category that includes modern humans and all immediate ancestors as well as extinct human species.
“In most respects it looks like an ape,” paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman said according to Smithsonian magazine. “But it’s got some really key features that make it look like it’s on the human lineage.
“The most important of those features is that it looks like a biped.”
Being bipedal is considered a major marker that put humans on a different evolutionary path from apes.
“We can conclude from the evidence that we have habitual bipedalism, plus quadrupedal arborealism, which is what is observed for early hominids and then gradually turns into the obligate bipedalism in Homo,” study co-author Jean-Renaud Boisserie said according to The Guardian.
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