The Arched Metatarsal of Australopithecus afarensis

Carol Ward1, William Kimbel, and Donald Johanson have published a paper in Science on the arch seen in a newly discovered fourth metatarsal of Australopithecus afarensis (AL 333-160). A lot of the popular press are publishing misleading headlines that this proves bipedalism in australopithecines. No, we've known they were bipedal -- we just didn't have... Continue Reading →

The Galili Femur

It has been a while since I blogged anything on paleoanthropology. But once I saw John Hawks' post where he pointed out Elizabeth Culotta's news piece in the latest Science on a new hominin femur from Galili, Ethiopia, I was excited. The femur was presented by Bence Viola to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which... Continue Reading →

A Refined Ar/Ar Date For The ‘Devil’s Footprints’ From The Roccamonfina Volcano In Italy

I remember reading a short announcement in 2003 about the discovery of 385,000–325,000 years old human-like footprints near the Roccamonfina volcanoes in southern Italy. We haven't found many paleo-footprints, so any discovery is welcomed with excitement and of course with controversy. Some of the most notable paleo-footprints are the 3.5 million year old prints from... Continue Reading →

Bill Jungers’ conclusions on Homo floresiensis bipedalism — the clown-footed hominin

More reports have been coming out of last week's meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and one that has caught my attention is a news article summarizing Bill Jungers' research on the Homo floresiensis foot morphology. Jungers recently published a research paper reanalyzing Orrorin bipedalism, along with his colleagues. For this presentation, Jungers... Continue Reading →

A Multivariate Analysis of Orrorin tugenensis and the Ancestry of Bipedalism

Tomorrow's issue of the Science will host a reinvestigation of the famous (or infamous?) Orrorin tugenensis. The study, "Orrorin tugenensis Femoral Morphology and the Evolution of Hominin Bipedalism," comes from William Jungers and Brian Richmond. Their shtick is that their results indicate Orrorin's bipedality was like that of early Australopithecus. This conclusion, albeit not too... Continue Reading →

A Human Ancestor for the Apes?

Do we really need to consider turning everything upside down by considering the existence of a human ancestor for the apes? This suggestion definitely has the quality of blasphemy against religious doctrine. It just feels wrong and goes against our deeply held beliefs and understanding of the world. However, this is exactly where the evidence... Continue Reading →

Evolution of Lordosis and Pregnancy

The report published in Nature by Whitcome, Shapiro, and Lieberman reports on a longitudinal study of 19 pregnant women to show how the center of gravity moves forward as the pregnancy progresses and also identifies male/female differences in lumbar curvature or lordosis. They make the point that this assembles into a neat evolutionary adaptationist story... Continue Reading →

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