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Our ancestors still climbed trees when they were able to walk

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Our ancestors still climbed trees when they were able to walk

(dr) Dominic Stratford

Aerial photograph of Sterkfontein cave in South Africa

Researchers say they have found evidence that our ancestors continued to climb trees, even when they were able to walk on both legs.

According to the newspaper ABC, researchers at the University of Kent, UK, analyzed two leg bones found about 60 years ago in the Sterkfontein cave in South Africa, which are estimated to be between one and three million years old.

In both cases, the outer part of the fossils showed a more human-like articulation than the ape, which suggests that these ancient hominids did indeed walk on both legs.

But, when analyzing the inside of the femur head, the team realized that the hip joints were more similar to those of primates that climb trees.

The general consensus is that it was approximately two million years ago that our ancestors, both Paranthropus robustus and the first Homo, began to walk on the ground regularly, starting to climb the trees sporadically.

“But the evidence has been sparse, controversial and not widely accepted. Our results provide direct evidence that members of one of these species regularly adopted highly flexible hip joints, a posture that in other non-human apes is associated with climbing trees, ”say the study authors. published, this Monday, in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

In other words, writes the Spanish newspaper, these hominids walked both on the ground and on top of the trees.

“It is exciting to be able to reconstruct the real behavior of these people who lived millions of years ago and, every time we explore a new fossil, it is an opportunity to learn something new about our evolutionary history”, says Leoni Georgiou, one of the authors of the study.

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