Human evolution; "Little foot's" balance mechanism (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 18:43 (440 days ago) @ dhw

Interesting new finding about 'little foot':

"An ancient human relative known as "Little Foot" likely walked more like a chimpanzee than like a modern human.

"Little Foot is an exceptionally well-preserved female Australopithecus — a genus in the human family tree — dating to 3.67 million years ago. Her near-complete skeleton, discovered in a cave in South Africa in 1994, was finally excavated in December after a 20-year effort (which the scientists described as a "miracle"), and close analysis of her skull enabled scientists to create 3D models of the tiny structures in her inner ear.

"This "bony labyrinth" holds important clues about balance and movement, researchers reported in a new study. In shape, Little Foot's inner-ear structure is "substantially different" from early Homo species, suggesting that she moved differently — perhaps more like our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees.


" For the study, the researchers scanned the interior of Little Foot's skull and used the data to construct 3D models of her inner ear. They then compared the models with the inner ears of 17 early hominin specimens, 10 extant humans and 10 chimpanzees.

"The scientists discovered that Little Foot's ear canals differed greatly from those in human ears, and they were also very different from another hominin group known as Paranthropus, which lived at the same time as early humans. In fact, Little Foot's canals were distinctly "ape-like," resembling those of chimpanzees. This suggests that the way Australopithecus moved likely had something in common with chimps, according to the study.

"Our analysis of the inner ear might be compatible with the hypothesis that Little Foot and the Australopithecus specimens in general were walking on two legs on the ground but also spent some times in the trees," Beaudet said.

"The shape of Little Foot's cochlea — a hearing organ deep inside the ear that senses vibrations — also differed from that in Homo species, implying that Australopithecus interacted with their environment differently than their human cousins, the researchers reported."

Comment: For me this study shows the vast number of ways humans differ from apes, and why design is required

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