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Thread: Lucy had a cousin

  1. #1
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    Lucy had a cousin

    As a member of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, I just received an e-mail notice about this. Link below is to the Press Release

    Press Release

    A team of scientists has announced the discovery of a 3.4 million-year-old partial foot from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia. The fossil foot did not belong to a member of "Lucy's" species, Australopithecus afarensis, the famous early human ancestor. Research on this new specimen indicates that more than one species of early human ancestor existed between 3 and 4 million years ago with different methods of locomotion. The analysis will be published in the March 29, 2012 issue of the journal Nature.

    The partial foot was found in February 2009 in an area locally known as Burtele.

    "The Burtele partial foot clearly shows that at 3.4 million years ago, Lucy's species, which walked upright on two legs, was not the only hominin species living in this region of Ethiopia," said lead author and project leader Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "Her species co-existed with close relatives who were more adept at climbing trees, like 'Ardi's' species, Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago."
    Very cool.
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  2. #2
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    And front page news in the physical paper.
    But; the videos in the press release are much better. Thanks.

    So is this the missing link that Farnsworth missed?

  3. #3
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    Very cool, indeed. You do know, of course, that since we have "Lucy," we now need an "Ethel."
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    As a member of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, I just received an e-mail notice about this. Link below is to the Press Release

    Press Release


    Very cool.

    I have a general question: maybe it can be answered (and again I may have forgotten the answer)-----Is there any reason why mankind's most ancient fossils have been found on the Continent of Africa and not anywhere else? It has been analyzed (through genetic fingerprinting?) that all of our ancestors migrated from Africa outwards---the question to me is why? Were conditions at the time of migration such that mankind had to search for more plentiful food?

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    I suspect it's rather that conditions were such that food had also become available elsewhere.

    Though they're easy to imagine as the Hebrew exodus where a whole people travel to another country, in reality the migrations were for most of the time more like "Why don't you and Lucy go over there, you'll have more time for yourself that way.
    With "over there" being 100 meters away. that'll easily get people from Africa to Norway in less than 2 million years.
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  6. #6
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    It's not a matter of needing to expand; it's a matter of having the opportunity. Africa only touches or comes near touching any other continent at three points, and there have been serious challenges in the way of expanding outward by any of them.

    The Strait of Gibraltar: I don't think it has ever been dry while we've been around, it's on the other side of the Sahara Desert from where we originated, its currents and rocks make it dangerous to cross by boat, and once you get across it you just reach more rocky inhospitable terrain like what you just left behind.

    The Sinai Peninsula: It's on the other side of the Sahara Desert from where we originated. A few times in the last few million years, it and the part of the desert leading up to it have greened up enough for members of the genus Homo to live there, so this route out of Africa has been crossed, but only during certain brief windows of opportunity before the area returns to its inhospitable desert state. The last time was over a hundred thousand years ago. This resulted in a colony of our own species in Israel, which apparently went extinct without spreading much beyond there. Why that happened isn't known, but, since the window of opportunity to leave Africa by this route was so brief, all it took was for one little population to fail, in order to end all colonization beyond Africa for that round.

    The straight between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden: Asia could only be colonized by this route during periods of extremely low sea level, not just because that shortens the distance needed to be traveled across the water, but also because that's when a series of fresh water springs are exposed along the southern coast of the Arabia Peninsula. Most of the time, those springs just come out under the ocean offshore, where they're no help at all to human survival. Without them, there's nothing but the desert, and t doesn't even open up once in a while like parts of Sahara do. Like the route to the Sinai Peninsula becoming temporarily hospitable, this doesn't happen often. The last time the sea level was that low was around 50000 years ago. This time the colony held on long enough to still leave descendants in Eurasia after the temporary route from Africa closed again.

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    There are people who seriously try to argue that humans came out of India, so...
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    It's not a matter of needing to expand; it's a matter of having the opportunity. Africa only touches or comes near touching any other continent at three points, and there have been serious challenges in the way of expanding outward by any of them.

    The Strait of Gibraltar: I don't think it has ever been dry while we've been around, it's on the other side of the Sahara Desert from where we originated, its currents and rocks make it dangerous to cross by boat, and once you get across it you just reach more rocky inhospitable terrain like what you just left behind.
    The Sahara wasn't a desert at the time.
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