June 15, 2021


Little Foot’s shoulders hint at how a human-chimp ancestor climbed

Little Foot, a nearly complete hominid skeleton painstakingly excavated from rock inside a South African cave, shouldered a powerful evolutionary load.

This 3.67-million-year-old adult female sports the oldest and most complete set of shoulder blades and collarbones of any ancient hominid. Those fossils also provide the best available model for what the shoulders of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees looked like, say Kristian Carlson, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and his colleagues. Their results provide new insights into how both Little Foot and a human-chimp last common ancestor climbed in trees.

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