3.67-million-year-old human ancestor 'Little Foot' goes on display

3.67-million-year-old human ancestor 'Little Foot' goes on display

Little Foot was discovered in small pieces from 1994 by the British paleontologist Ron Clarke in a cave of Sterkfontein, near Johannesburg.

Prof Clarke at the excavation site. The almost complete skeleton is expected to help paleontologists know more about the appearance and movement of Australopithecus, the early human ancestors.

"What Little Foot shows us is that the image represented in our books of our ancestors walking on all fours and then rising gradually is totally false", he said.

Both Little Foot and Lucy belong to the same genus - Australopithecus - but they are different species.

Discovered by Professor Ron Clarke from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, the fossil was given the nickname of "Little Foot" by Prof.

Although the honor of the oldest hominid skeleton ever found goes to a hominin named Ardi, which lived in Ethiopia 4.4 million years ago, the discovery of Little Foot is important because its skeleton is more whole than Ardi's.

The find reinforces the belief that South Africa was a major cradle of human evolution, featuring diverse hominid ancestors.

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The Little Foot fossil is 3.67 million years old, making it South Africa's oldest virtually complete fossil of a human ancestor. Clarke sent his assistants Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe into the deep underground cave to search for any possible broken bone surface that might fit with the bones he had discovered in boxes.

Twenty years after the initial discovery, the process of excavation, cleaning, reconstruction, casting, imaging and analysis is complete, and researchers are ready to reveal Little Foot to the world.

Within two days of searching in July 1997, they had found a match.

The results of the decades of studies will soon be released in a series of more than 25 scientific papers, the scientists involved say.

Professor Clarke said: "Once the upward-facing surfaces of the skeleton's bones were exposed, the breccia in which their undersides were still embedded had to be carefully undercut and removed in blocks for further cleaning in the lab".

According to the chief scientist, Robert Blumenschine from the Paleontological Scientific Trust (PAST), which is an organization that sponsored the excavation, the findings are the sources of pleasure for Africans.

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