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Extinct Human Ancestor Walked Upright: Evidence from 50 Years Ago

Anthropologist D. Carl Johanson made a groundbreaking discovery in Ethiopia of a skull fragment, shin and thigh bones belonging to an ape man (hominid) of the genus Australopithecus. The 30-year-old scientist stated at a news conference that this is concrete evidence that our ancestors walked on two legs over 3 million years ago.

However, not all paleoanthropologists are convinced that these features prove a two-legged gait. Some scientists believe that the bone belonged to an ape that may have walked upright at times. According to fossil analyses, several hominid species ambled around on two legs about 5 million to 7 million years ago. For instance, the oldest known, 7-million-year-old Sahelanthropus tchadensis, bears signs of upright walking including an inner projection near the hip joint.

Questions or comments on this article can be directed to feedback@sciencenews.org. The assistant editor at Science News Explores, Maria Temming has bachelor’s degrees in physics and English and a master’s in science writing. This article was supported by readers like you with your donation towards quality science journalism today.

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