Lucy’s baby

An article in the current issue of the journal Nature (pdf’s below) reported on the discovery of a 3.2-3.3 million year old almost complete skeleton of a juvenile female member of the Australopithecus afrensis species, the same as that of the famous Lucy discovered in the 1970’s. This latest find, in Dikika, Ethiopia (about 10 kilometers from where Lucy was found) is the earliest well preserved child ever found.
Lead researcher Zeresenay Alemseged first discovered the skull sticking out of the sand over 5 years ago and since then he and a team of paleoanthropologists have been working on the slow extraction of the fossils from the sandstone and careful analysis of the remains.

So far the bones reveal that the female was approximately 3 years old at the time of death (though this is an estimate), the brain size is about that same as that of a similarly aged chimpanzee, the lower body appeared to be adapted for upright walking while the shoulder joint and arms were more apelike and suitable for tree climbing.

The scientists have named the fossil Selam, Amharic for peace.

selam-nature05047.pdf

context-of-selam-nature05048.pdf

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