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Early hominids may have behaved more 'human' than we had thought

han 15 percent size difference on average, Larsen said.

This new study, however, took advantage of a novel fossil find at Site 333 in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia where remains of 13 individuals were discovered in 1975. Scientists believe that they all died at the same time, giving a possible "snapshot" view of how they lived.

Using the "Lucy" skeleton from a nearby site as a template, the Kent State researchers were able to use femur "head" size as a key to extrapolate the size of the individuals from Site 333.

"Only in the last few years have we realized that an individual's femur head size is a good proxy for its body weight," Larsen said.

The comparison showed that the sex-based size differences among the fossils at Site 333 were no greater than those for modern humans, suggesting that the same kind of modern social structure with cooperating males also occurred in the days of Australopithecus afarensis.

"I think what we are seeing here are the very first glimpses of 'humanness' in these early hominids dating back 3 million to 4 million years," he said.


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Contact: Clark Spencer Larsen
Larsen.53@osu.edu
614-292-4117
Ohio State University
6-Aug-2003


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