Ancient 3-Year-Old Climbed Trees, Researchers Say

3 Million Years Ago, Toddler Could Walk Upright and Climb Trees

Her almost complete skeleton was discovered in the Dikika region of Ethiopia in 2002 by Zeresenay Alemseged, paleontologist and professor of organismal biology and anatomy and the University of Chicago.

"For the first time, we have an incredible window into what walking was like for a (2.5)-year-old, more than 3 million years ago", Jeremy DeSilva, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H. and lead author in the study, said in a statement. "The Dikika foot adds to the wealth of knowledge on the mosaic nature of hominin skeletal evolution" explained Alemseged.

Now, analysis of the nearly complete skeleton of a female toddler from 3.3 million years ago has confirmed key details about how they walked. On the other hand, the researchers discovered that Australopithecus Afarensis primitive humans possessed 12 pairs of ribs and thoracic vertebrae precisely as many as the modern humans. In 2002, archaeologists discovered a well-preserved, partial skeleton of an infant A. afarensis, thought to be around 3-years-old at the time of death. But unlike the chimp's big toe, Selam's is in line with her other toes, similar to toes on a human foot. Selam most likely clung to her mother as she foraged for food or spent time in trees.

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"If you were living in Africa three million years ago without fire, without structures, and without any means of defence, you'd better be able get up in a tree when the sun goes down", said Dr DeSilva. UPDATE: I take it back - look at the included photos of the foot above and below and decide for yourselves how similar it looks to any foot you've seen before. However, the bone at the base of our big toe-called the medial cuneiform-has a connection for the big toe that is more curved and slightly more angled than what is found in humans today. What's more, the toddler found in Dikika, Ethiopia, was probably better at climbing than her parents.

Over 3 million years ago, our ancient ancestors and their toddlers were standing on two feet and walking upright, it has been revealed.

The Dikika child's foot shows that the toddler already had the bone structure needed to stand and walk.

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This evidence of increased mobility of the toe is an ape-like pattern that DeSilva et al. say is suggestive of a selective advantage of this trait and which offers new insights into the evolution of bipedality.

"Walking on two legs is a hallmark of being human, but walking poorly in a landscape full of predators is a recipe for extinction", DeSilva said.

Although skeletons like Selam and Lucy are incredibly important for anthropologists, they also show just how little scientists know about our ancestors.

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The paleontologists managed to recover the whole skeleton of this primitive female toddler and started to study it to shed more light on the human evolution. The fossil record indicates that these ancient ancestors were quite good at walking on two legs.

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