Fossil Proves Early Humans Were Tree Climbers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fossil Proves Early Humans Were Tree Climbers

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HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Despite the ability to walk upright, early relatives of humanity represented by the famed "Lucy" fossil likely spent much of their time in trees, remaining very active climbers, researchers say.

Humans are unique among living primates in that walking bipedally — on two feet — is humans' chief mode of locomotion. This upright posture freed their hands up for using tools, one of the key factors behind humans' domination of the planet.

Among the earliest known relatives of humanity definitely known to walk upright was Australopithecus afarensis, the species including the famed 3.2-million-year-old "Lucy." Australopithecines are the leading candidates for direct ancestors of the human lineage, living about 2.9 million to 3.8 million years ago in East Africa.

Although Lucy and her kin were no knuckle-draggers, whether they also spent much of their time in trees was hotly debated. Uncovering the answer to this question could shed light on the evolutionary forces that shaped the human lineage.

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