View Full Version : 'Miracle' Excavation of 'Little Foot' Skeleton Reveals Mysterious Human Relative

12-11-2018, 03:46 PM

Following an epic 20-year-long excavation in South Africa, researchers have finally recovered and cleaned the nearly-complete skeleton of an ancient human relative: an approximately 3.67-million-year-old hominin nicknamed Little Foot.

Little Foot is likely a previously unknown species, the researchers said. In four newly posted studies all available on bioRxiv, meaning they are not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal the researchers delved into Little Foot's anatomy. Their findings reveal that Little Foot likely walked upright on two feet and probably had an nearly lifelong injury on her left arm.

Controversial name
Given that Little Foot appears to be a newfound species (based, in part, on her teeth and hips), the researchers of the new studies named her Australopithecus prometheus. This name was given to a hominin skull fragment found in South Africa in 1948, but it fell by the wayside after researchers decided that the fragment likely belonged to an unusual A. africanus.

But Lee Berger, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand who was not involved with the new research, said that if Little Foot is actually a newly identified species (something he's not sure of yet), then she deserves a new species name, not a recycled one that's not well defined, Berger told Nature.