Scientists Announce Discovery of 3.6 Million-Year-Old Relative of 'Lucy'By Cleveland Museum Of Natural History, PRNE
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Early Hominid Skeleton Confirms Human-Like Walking is Ancient
CLEVELAND, June 21, 2010 - Meet "Lucy's" great-grandfather. Scientists from The Cleveland Museum of
Natural History, Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University,
Addis Ababa University and Berkeley Geochronology Center were part of an
international team that discovered and analyzed a 3.6 million-year-old
partial skeleton found in Ethiopia. The early hominid is 400,000 years older
than the famous "Lucy" skeleton. Research on this new specimen indicates that
advanced human-like, upright walking occurred much earlier than previously
thought. The discovery and results from this initial analysis will be
published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
The partial skeleton belongs to "Lucy's" species, Australopithecus
afarensis. It was found in the Woranso-Mille area of Ethiopia's Afar region
by a team led by first author Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Curator and Head
of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The
partial skeleton was excavated over five years after the discovery of a
fragment of the lower arm bone in 2005. The excavation recovered the most
complete clavicle and one of the most complete shoulder blades ever found in
the human fossil record.
The specimen was nicknamed "Kadanuumuu" (kah-dah-nuu-muu) by the authors.
"Kadanuumuu" means "big man" in the Afar language and reflects its large
size. The male hominid stood between 5 to 5 1/2 feet tall, while "Lucy" stood
at about 3 1/2 feet.
"This individual was fully bipedal and had the ability to walk almost
like modern humans," said Haile-Selassie. "As a result of this discovery, we
can now confidently say that 'Lucy' and her relatives were almost as
proficient as we are walking on two legs, and that the elongation of our legs
came earlier in our evolution than previously thought."
Co-author Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University professor of
anthropology, explained, "The new specimen tells us much more about the
pelvis, thorax, and limb proportions than 'Lucy' was able to alone."
Authors of the research include Dr. Bruce Latimer, director of the Center
for Human Origins at Case Western Reserve University; and Dr. Beverly Saylor,
associate professor of geological sciences at Case Western Reserve
View the press backgrounder and images at
Glenda Bogar, +1-216-231-2071, gbogar at cmnh.org, or Marie Graf, +1-216-231-2070, both of Cleveland Museum of Natural History
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