A much older hu­man an­ces­tor

The Week (US) - - 20 News -

A set of hu­man-like foot­prints dat­ing to 5.7 mil­lion years ago, dis­cov­ered on the Greek is­land of Crete, chal­lenge ex­ist­ing the­o­ries of how and when our species evolved. Prior to this dis­cov­ery, the old­est con­firmed ho­minin foot­prints were found in Tan­za­nia and dated at a max­i­mum of 3.65 mil­lion years. An­thro­pol­o­gists be­lieved these an­cient hu­man rel­a­tives were iso­lated in Africa for sev­eral mil­lion years be­fore spread­ing out to Europe and Asia. A new anal­y­sis of the prints found in Crete could com­pli­cate this evo­lu­tion­ary tale. “What makes this con­tro­ver­sial is the age and lo­ca­tion of the prints,” re­searcher Per Ahlberg tells ScienceDaily.com. At the time the prints were made, nearly 6 mil­lion years ago, Crete was still part of the Greek main­land and early hu­man an­ces­tors were the­o­ret­i­cally still liv­ing in Africa and had ape-like feet. The fos­sils in Crete, how­ever, have dis­tinctly ho­minin-like fea­tures, in­clud­ing a pre­dom­i­nant “big toe.” The an­i­mal didn’t have claws and walked up­right on the soles of its feet—not its toes. “This dis­cov­ery chal­lenges the es­tab­lished nar­ra­tive of early hu­man evo­lu­tion head-on and is likely to gen­er­ate a lot of de­bate,” Ahlberg says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.