29 January 2011

When did you and I come down from the trees to walk on the east African savannah? Well, not you and me but our common ancestors?

An article in the journal Folia primatologica suggests that it was about 3.5 to 4.2 million years ago. The argument is based on changes in the wrist and hand comparing two hominids, Australopithecus anamensis and Australopithecus afarensis. The latter is widely seen as transitional between apes and humans. This drop from the trees may have coincided with a change in the climate.

Of course we, Homo sapiens sapiens, were ages away. There was a lot of walking the savannah and evolving first.

You can read an accessible account of the research in Discovery news. A short abstract of the original research is in here.

MACHO Gabriele A et al ‘An exploratory study on the combined effects of external and internal morphology on load dissipation in primate capitates: its potential for an understanding of the positional and locomotor repertoire of early hominins’ in Folia primatologica volume 81, number 5, 2010, pages 292-304, published online 15 January 2011