The fossil was found in Ethiopia’s Afar region and proves we had more than one pre-historic ancestor living in the same region around the same time. However, this foot fossil is of a species that could both walk upright and grasp tree branches.
Our other pre-human ancestor that roamed the region around the same time was called “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis), who had developed feet with an arch, allowing it to stand upright and walk similar to us.
However, the foot fossil recently discovered by researchers from Case Western Reserve University in the United States, did not have a foot with an arch. Instead, its big toe was separate to the rest of the toes, which were all longer almost like fingers.
It’s interesting to know that two types of pre-human species had evolved and walked the Afar region between 3-4million years ago.
Dr Isabelle De Groote from London’s Natural History Museum told the BBC how rare this discovery is;
“We have so few foot remains, they so rarely preserve, that we tend to take great leaps through evolution where there are no specimen at all representing long periods of time.”
The fossil’s morphology is similar to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus that lived 4.4million years ago. However, archaeologists are lacking vital other fossil structures, such as teeth and skull elements, to determine what species this was.