Monday, August 25, 2008

Earliest Bipedality at 6 Mya

A study coming out of SUNY Stony Brook suggests that the earliest form of bipedality arose in hominids around 6 million years ago. The research incorporates the newest information from the Orrorin tugenensis material discovered in 2000. The story notes:

This research solidifies the evidence that the human lineage split off as far back as six million years ago, that we share ancestry with Orrorin, and that our ancestors were walking upright at the time,” says Dr. Richmond. “These answers were not clear before this analysis.”

“Our study confirms that as early as six million years ago, basal hominins in Africa were already similar to later australopithecines in their anatomy and inferred locomotor biomechanics,” adds Dr. Jungers. “At the same time, by way of the analysis, we see no special phylogenetic connection between Orrorin and our own genus, Homo.”

This is something we always suspected—that bipedalism had to have arisen before the australopithecines hit the scene—but it is nice to have at least some evidence of this. It does not, however, shed any light on the relationship between this hominid and Sahelanthropus.

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