Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scientists discover 3.4 mln year old partial foot in Afar, Ethiopia

The Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) and the Woranso-Mille Paleontological project on Wednesday announced that an international team of Ethiopian and American scientists conducting paleontological field research in the Woranso-Mille area of Afar regional state discovered a 3.4 million year old partial foot.

The new specimen did not belong to a member of “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis, the famous and most researched early human ancestor.
The partial foot was found in an area locally known as Burtele, located in Mille District of Zone one of the Afar regional state.

The discovery and results from the initial analysis of this specimen will be published in the March 29,2012 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.
Lead author and Woranso-Mille Project team leader Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, said “The Burtele partial foot clearly shows that at 3.4 million years ago, Lucy’s species, which walked upright on two legs, was not the only hominine species living in what is now the Afar regional state.

Dr. Yohannes , who is also Curator and Head of Physical Anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History said “her species co-existed with close relatives who were more adept at climbing trees like ‘Ardi’s species, Ardipithecus ramidus, which lived 4.4 million years ago.” Lucy’s species lived from 2.9 million years ago to 3.8 million years ago.
Culture and Tourism Minister, Amin Abdulkadir on the occasion said the new discovery will open a new page for scientists and humankind.

"We Ethiopians are proud once again to be cradle of humankind," Amin said.
Authority Director-General, Yonas Desta on his part said the Afar regional state of Ethiopia carries on its leading position in the world as it is home for the mysterious past of the humankind.

He expressed commitment of the Authority to support scientists working for the benefits of human development.
The Burtele partial foot is the first incontrovertible fossil evidence to show the presence of more than one adaptively separated pre-human species between 3 and 4 million years ago.

The Woranso-Mille Paleontological project conducts field and laboratory work in Ethiopia every year.
Lucy , (Dinknesh) , was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. (ENA)

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