Oldest Human, Lucy, May Have Company

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Scientists may have discovered a new human ancestor to go along with Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis female from eastern Africa. The new specimen, dubbed Little Foot because of his small bones, was unearthed in South Africa in the early 1990’s. His skeleton was almost completely preserved after he apparently fell down a narrow cave shaft and died there.

Whether Little Foot was a relative of Lucy’s or a different pre-human species has been a subject of debate among anthropologists for 25 years, but a new dating process suggests that Little Foot lived and died some 3.67 million years ago, close to the same time as Lucy.

Although some scientists dispute the accuracy of the dating technique, if it holds up it would suggest an evolutionary link between different species of Australopithecus in ancient Africa, as well as evidence of where in Africa modern humans began to develop.

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