Friday, March 13, 2009

More on the Fossil Footprints

Despite ICR claims to the contrary, the new fossil footprints dated 1.5 mya tell us a wealth of information about the gait of early hominids. The story, by Robert Adler, in New Scientist reveals the following:"
Between 1.8 and 1.5 million years ago, H. erectus evolved into an ancestor very different to anything that came before," says Matthew Bennett, a geologist at Bournemouth University, UK, and part of the team that studied the footprints. Those differences included shorter arms, longer legs, and - the footprints show - a modern foot and gait.

That's important, he says, because the increasing mobility of H. erectus opened up a wider range of potential habitats. This can be seen in their long-distance transport of tools and occupation of drier and higher-altitude landscapes. In turn, the combination of increased mobility and tool use may have contributed to more efficient scavenging and increased meat consumption.
This is intriguing and adds to the "bushiness" of the human lineage. Robust australopithecines are still roaming around the countryside down to 1.1 mya. They appear to go extinct at that point. The last robust australopithecines in central Africa date to around 1.8 mya and shared the landscape with Homo habilis, before they, too went extint. This may be one of the reasons.

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