Laetoli hominin and chimpanzee footprints. These randomly selected footprints demonstrate the 'stereotypical' morphologies of, from left to right, human, Laetoli hominin and chimpanzee footprints... Credit: © rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org
Laetoli discovery shows ancestors walked slightly differently, with more flexed limbs.
A study of early human footprints discovered at Laetoli, in Tanzania, have yielded new clues about how our earliest ancestors walked. Using novel experimental techniques, scientists have discovered that the 3.7 million years old footprints slightly differ from ours, shedding a new light on the evolutionary history of hominin bipedalism.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, looks back at footprints discovered in 1977 at the Laetoli site.
They represent the earliest indisputable evidence of bipedalism in the human fossil record.
Study author Kevin Hatala, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, was involved in the discovery of more recent footprints in Kenya, at the Ileret site. These footprints were left by early humans who lived there 1.5 million years ago. This find prompted Hatala to go back to Laetoli to analyse and compare the footprints left there. [...] ibtimes.co.uk / Link 2