Navigation Links
Ancient Footprints Reveal Earliest Signs of Human-Like Gait

FRIDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Ancient footprints of a human ancestor found in Tanzania show human-like walking began 3.7 million years ago, according to new research.

The footprints demonstrate that the fully upright gait of modern humans existed about 2 million years earlier than previously thought, said researchers at the University of Liverpool.

"The shape of the human foot is probably one of the most obvious differences between us and our nearest living relatives, the great apes. The difference in foot function is thought to be linked to the fact that humans spend all of their time on the ground, but there has been a lot of debate as to when in the fossil record these changes occurred. Our work shows that there is considerably more functional overlap than previously expected," Bill Sellers, of the University of Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences, said in a University of Liverpool news release.

Known as the Laetoli trail, the 11 individual footprints found in Tanzania are the earliest known footprints made by human ancestors. The prints reveal features of a gait with more similarities to the way modern humans walk than the bipedal walking of chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas.

In conducting the study, the researchers used statistical and imaging techniques to obtain a three-dimensional average of the 11 footprints and compared the results to data from previous studies on footprint formation and under-foot pressure in modern humans and other living great apes. Then they used computer simulation to predict how Australopithecus afarensis -- the species that left the Laetoli trail footprints -- walked.

"It was previously thought that Australopithecus afarensis walked in a crouched posture, and on the side of the foot, pushing off the ground with the middle part of the foot, as today's great apes do," Robin Crompton, professor at the University of Liverpool's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, explained in the news release.

"We found, however, that the Laetoli prints represented a type of bipedal walking that was fully upright and driven by the front of the foot, particularly the big toe, much like humans today, and quite different to bipedal walking of chimpanzees and other apes," Crompton added.

The study authors noted that the findings are particularly important because the development of the features of human foot function helped human ancestors branch out of Africa.

"Our work demonstrates that many of these features evolved nearly 4 million years ago in a species that most consider to be partially tree-dwelling. These findings show support for a previous study at Liverpool that showed upright bipedal walking originally evolved in a tree-living ancestor of living great apes and humans. Australopithecus afarensis, however, was not modern in body proportions of the limbs and torso," Crompton noted.

Australopithecus afarensis had the reverse physical build of modern humans -- short legs and a long body. As a result, the researchers said, this species could only walk or run well for short distances. Additional studies are needed to determine when human ancestors became able to walk or run over very long distances, enabling them to colonize the world.

The findings were released online July 20 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of Interface.

More information

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences provides more information on evolution.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: University of Liverpool, news release, July 19, 2011

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil Now Available in the UK
2. Strange Artifact Identified as Ancient Anti-Snoring Device
3. A Must-Hear Free Summer Seminar - Dr. Sherrill Sellman Reveals "Secrets for Getting in 'Summer Shape' with Ancient Herbs"
4. A new view of fossils: The behavior of ancient life forms
5. Action of modern drug demonstrates how 2 ancient human systems interact
6. Is Frequency the Future of Medicine or an Ancient Mystery Revealed?
7. Ancient Chinese herbal recipe eases side effects of chemotherapy
8. Ancient Chinese medicine may help chemotherapy patients
9. Ancient Toolkit Holds Clues to Migration of Early Man
10. Conceptualizing cancer cells as ancient toolkit
11. Mummies Show Heart Disease Is an Ancient Problem
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Ancient Footprints Reveal Earliest Signs of Human-Like Gait
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... , ... Safe storage for contraceptive devices may not always be easy to ... and the other from Bradley Beach, New Jersey, there is an easy solution to ... to replace NuvaRings more often than necessary. As such, it affords peace of mind ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 28, 2015 , ... There is only one major question facing ... last year? , This question has not been an easy question to answer. Especially ... age and the younger workforce don’t share the same discipline around working long hours. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... The rapid speed at which Americans ... more care is needed, especially with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive conditions becoming ... The forgotten part of this equation: 80 percent of medical care occurs in ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just announced a special promotion that ... of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, customers will receive a complimentary ... spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin the holidays, so we encourage ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... of progress through sharing, the 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs ... will begin on Sunday, March 6, 2016, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... Nov. 26, 2015 Research and Markets ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies ... Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging ... --> --> This ... the Italian therapeutic drug monitoring market, including emerging ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ... Application (BLA) with the United States ... 501, a biosimilar candidate to Humira ® (adalimumab). ... application submitted to the FDA and represents Amgen,s first ... Sean E. Harper , M.D., executive vice president of ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  ARKRAY USA ... to provide evidence demonstrating the accuracy of its blood ... on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease in ... the Company,s GLUCOCARD ® 01 meter and the ... requirements. The ability to accurately measure glucose levels in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: