Extinct Human Ancestor Walked Upright: Evidence from 50 Years Ago

D. Carl Johanson, an anthropologist, made a groundbreaking discovery in Ethiopia of a 3-million-year-old man’s skull fragment, shin and thigh bones. The bones belonged to an ape man (hominid) of the genus Australopithecus. At a news conference, the 30-year-old scientist stated, “We have absolute, concrete evidence that our ancestors walked on two legs over 3 million years ago.”

Fossil analyses suggest that several hominid species ambled around on two legs about 5 million to 7 million years ago. However, not all paleoanthropologists are convinced those features prove a two-legged gait. Some scientists think the bone belonged to an ape that may have walked upright at times.

The Sahelanthropus tchadensis bone is the oldest known hominid species and bears signs of upright walking including an inner projection near the hip joint. Scientists reported this information at a conference. But not all scientists are convinced these features prove a two-legged gait.

Questions or comments on this article can be directed to feedback@sciencenews.org. Maria Temming is the assistant editor at Science News Explores and was previously the staff writer for physical sciences at Science News. She has bachelor’s degrees in physics and English and a master’s in science writing. This article was supported by readers like you by donating today to invest in quality science journalism.

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