Navigation Links
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Date:2/26/2009

Fossils thought to be oldest evidence to date of an essentially modern foot

THURSDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Anthropologists have uncovered a trail of ancient footprints in northern Kenya believed to represent the oldest evidence to date of an essentially modern, human-like foot.

The footprints date back at least 1.5 million years, according to a report in the Feb. 27 issue of Science.

"Finding footprints in the early stage of human evolution is very rare. They're very fragile and they don't often preserve," explained study co-author John W.K. Harris, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. "This is only the second finding in 30 years."

"This is not the first time that a footprint has been found that has shouted to us through time, but it certainly is one of the most important," added Jeffrey T. Laitman, distinguished professor and director of anatomy and functional morphology and of gross anatomy at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Laitman was not involved with the study.

The features of the footprints indicate that they belonged to the hominid Homo ergaster, or early Homo erectus. These are the oldest footprints that can be linked to mankind's genus, Homo, according to an accompanying perspective article in the journal. This creature had the longer legs and shorter arms of modern man, rather than the longer arms and shorter legs of the more ape-like ancestors.

According to fossil records, the ability to walk on two feet -- called bipedalism -- seems to have emerged about 6 million years ago. But it's unclear when the more human form of bipedalism evolved.

Thirty years ago, in 1978, British archaeologist/anthropologist Mary Leakey discovered 3.75-million-year-old footprints at the Laetoli archaeological site in Tanzania.

But these prints seem to have belonged to a less "modern" bipedal creature, still with the big toe separated from the rest of the toes and with the more ape-like long arms with shorter legs.

And any skeletons of mankind's more modern-proportioned ancestors tend to have lacked foot bones.

"There's not much information regarding feet ... only a few foot bones have survived through time," Laitman said.

The new discovery, made at Ileret in Kenya, is notable for a number of reasons, Harris said.

"The size of the foot is conspicuous," he explained. "The foot is much larger than the bony remains we have of the feet of earlier hominids, and it's longer and more elongated. You or I could put our feet into the prints of what we've found on the landscape from 1.5 million years ago."

Harris realized the importance of the prints when a local tribesman started to put his foot into one of the prints. "He could almost put his modern foot into one of the prints," Harris recalled. "It's like the coloratura soprano hitting the high notes. It sends shivers up your spine."

The shape and other features of the foot also more closely resemble those of modern man.

"There's a well-defined heel, nice and round and large. It also shows the arch from where we transfer the weight from back to front and, then, the most conspicuous feature, is the big toe which is in line with other toes," Harris said. "That gives us the platform to step off. These are all features that define the modern foot, and they were there 1.5 million years ago."

The distance between the footprints also shows a much greater stride than had been evident before, indicating a change in landscape and in the hominids' ability to traverse this landscape.

"At this time, 1.5 to 1.7 million years ago, there was a change in the climate to more dire conditions, so patches of food were further apart," Harris said. "For a hominid to be successful on that landscape, he had to have a more efficient way of moving across the landscape... The creature was increasing its home range. We think that it was at this stage of human evolution that Homo erectus left the continent of Africa."

"You're uncovering a little window in time, a snapshot in time that nobody's looked at in 1.5 million years," he added. "Nobody's uncovered these prints since they were made by the hominid himself."

More information

Visit the Institute for Human Origins at Arizona State University for more on "becoming human."



SOURCES: John W.K. Harris, Ph.D., professor, anthropology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick; Jeffrey T. Laitman, Ph.D. distinguished professor and director, anatomy and functional morphology, and director, gross anatomy, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Feb. 27, 2009, Science


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Human Science, Inc. Launches PatientCarenet.Org
2. Stem Cell Innovations C3A Human Liver Cell Line is Capable of Producing Biosimilar Serum Proteins for Follow-On Biologics
3. Los Angeles Jewish Home Support Group Presents Humanitarian Award and Visionary Award
4. 2009 DeLee Humanitarian Award goes to Marshall Lindheimer, M.D., of the University of Chicago
5. Human stem cells provide a new model for Lou Gehrigs disease
6. IlluminOss Announces First Human Case Utilizing Its Innovative Photodynamic Bone Stabilization System Technology
7. Human papillomavirus lesion identified at the dentist
8. Former Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt To Address Health Plan Member Retention Summit
9. Former Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to Address Health Plan Member Retention Summit
10. Tool Kit Helps Employers Team with Banks to Optimize Human Capital
11. International Humanization of Birth Conference
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements ... that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and ... main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Lake Orion, Clarkston, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June ... ... direction with respect to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These ... tolerable intercourse but they also require a comprehensive approach that can help for ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking ... American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical ... effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, ... Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms ... Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it above ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, ... and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained ... Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Research and ... "Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" report ... In-Mold Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health Monitoring, ... Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical components ... replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies or ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. , June 24, 2016  American Respiratory ... testing company, is now able to perform sophisticated lung assessments in ... Medical Technologies , Inc. Patients are no longer ... to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients like Jeanne R. ... testing done in the comfort of her own home. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)...   Pulmatrix, Inc ., (NASDAQ: PULM ... announced today that it was added to the Russell ... comprehensive set of U.S. and global equity indexes on ... milestone for Pulmatrix," said Chief Executive Officer Robert ... progress in developing drugs for crucial unmet medical needs, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: