2021-11-26

Research: Australopithecus species can walk like humans and retain the ability to climb

By yqqlm yqqlm

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whether Australopithecus is the direct ancestor of modern humans remains to be discussed, but it is a fascinating creature anyway. It lived about 2 million years ago and is about 1.5 meters tall. It has a strange combination of modern and ancient facial features

the species was described from two specimens, a young male and an adult female, unearthed in Malapa, South Africa. Now, scientists have found and described additional bones belonging to female specimens, which are named MH2 and nicknamed Issa. These new bones come from the lumbar part of the waist. It is reported that this part of the body can reveal how a creature moves

Research: Australopithecus species can walk like humans and retain the ability to climb

“the lumbar region is essential to understand the nature of bipedal movement of our earliest ancestors and their adaptation to bipedal walking,” said Scott Williams, the first author of the study, “Related series of lumbar vertebrae are very rare in the human fossil record. In the whole early African record, actually only three comparable lower vertebrae are known.”

previous studies have assumed that Australopithecus species will have a relatively straight spine, as seen in modern apes and older humans. This is usually an indicator of strong trunk muscles, which is very suitable for climbing. But surprisingly, the newly discovered vertebrae show an inward curve, which is called spinal valgus. This makes it difficult to climb Quite like humans and shows that it is adapted to walking upright like us.

but the most intriguing thing is that Issa doesn’t seem to have completely given up living in trees – the team points out that other characteristics still show that it has strong climbing adaptability. The creature walks like humans, but climbs like apes at the same time.

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Professor Gabrielle Russo, the author of the research paper, said: “although the existence of scoliosis and other characteristics of the spine represent a clear adaptation to walking with both legs, there are other characteristics, such as large and upward transverse processes, which indicates that there is a strong trunk muscle tissue, perhaps for arboreal behavior.”

this depicts the source species of Australopithecus as a transitional species from climbing trees to walking on the ground. Even if it is not a “missing link” in our own evolutionary chain, it also shows how this transition occurs, which may also occur in one of its contemporary species, and we are their offspring