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3.3 million-year-old fossil of young girl reveals origins of human spine

Analysis of a 3.3 million-year-old fossil skeleton reveals the most complete spinal column of any early human relative, including vertebrae, neck and rib cage. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that portions of the human spinal structure that enable efficient walking motions were established millions of years earlier than previously thought.
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Fossil footprints tell story of human origins

Footprints made by early humans millions of years ago have been uncovered in Tanzania close to where similar tracks were found in the 1970s.
The impressions were made when some of our distant relatives walked together across wet volcanic ash.
Their makers, most likely Australopithecus afarensis, appear to have had a wide range of body sizes.

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Thumb bones in pre-humans make them more like us

...now, thanks to high-tech tools of our own, scientists have determined that a couple million years ago one of our pre-human ancestors had the same human-defining precision grip, even though researchers think of them as little more than upright walking apes, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. That supports earlier but controversial evidence that the small-brained Australopithecus africanus fashioned early tools.
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3.3-Million-Year-Old Baby Shows Lucy's Species Hung Out in Trees

The 1974 discovery of Lucy, the 3.2-million-year old skeleton of an ancestral species known as Australopithecus afarensis, demonstrated that our ancestors evolved adaptations to upright walking before brain size expanded (another key human trait). But experts disagreed vehemently over just how dedicated Lucy's species was to life on the ground. Some thought that A. afarensis had thoroughly abandoned the trees, that its anatomy demanded a terrestrial lifestyle and that any features suggestive of tree climbing were merely harmless evolutionary holdovers from an arboreal ancestor. Others maintained that A. afarensis still spent a considerable amount of time in the trees, and that the arboreal traits figured importantly in the survival of the species.
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What Did Australopithecines Sound Like?

When archaeologists hear whispers of humanity's past, it's through the painstaking work of piecing together a story from artifacts and fossilised remains: The actual calls, grunts, and other sounds made by our evolutionary ancestors didn't fossilise. But working backward from clues in ancient skeletons, Dutch researcher Bart de Boer has built plastic models of an early hominin's vocal tract - and, by running air through the models, recreated the sounds our ancestors may have made millions of years ago.
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AL 288-1
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Lucy (also given a second (Amharic) name: dinqine, or Dinkenesh, meaning "you are amazing") is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis. The specimen was discovered on the 30th November, 1974, at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression.
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Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis. The specimen was discovered on the 24th November, 1974, at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression.
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Ancient footprints show human-like walking began nearly four million years ago

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that ancient footprints in Laetoli, Tanzania, show that human-like features of the feet and gait existed almost two million years earlier than previously thought.
Many earlier studies have suggested that the characteristics of the human foot, such as the ability to push off the ground with the big toe, and a fully upright bipedal gait, emerged in early Homo, approximately 1.9 million years-ago.
Liverpool researchers, however, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Manchester and Bournemouth University, have now shown that footprints of a human ancestor dating back 3.7 million years ago, show features of the foot with more similarities to the gait of modern humans than with the type of bipedal walking used by chimpanzees, orang-utans and gorillas.

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New fossil evidence seems to confirm that a key ancestor of ours could walk upright consistently - one of the major advances in human evolution.
The evidence comes in the form of a 3.2 million-year-old bone that was found at Hadar, Ethiopia.
Its shape indicates the diminutive, human-like species Australopithecus afarensis had arches in its feet.

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Stone tools and meat-eating began 3.5 million years ago

Researchers have found evidence that hominins - early human ancestors - used stone tools to cleave meat from animal bones more than 3.2 million years ago.
That pushes back the earliest known tool use and meat-eating in such hominins by more than 800,000 years.
Bones found in Ethiopia show cuts from stone and indications that the bones were forcibly broken to remove marrow.
The research, in the journal Nature, challenges several notions about our ancestors' behaviour.

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