Thursday, September 21, 2006

Photo Gallery: "Lucy's Baby" Adds to Early-Human Record - National Geographic News

Dikika baby skull photo

The 3.3 million-year-old skull of a female Australopithecus afarensis was recently unearthed by paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged—22 years after the discovery of "Lucy," the most famous fossil of the early human ancestor species (read the full news story).

Some experts have taken to calling the young ape, who died at the age of three, Lucy's baby, despite the fact that the toddler's fossil is tens of thousands of years older.

The new fossil will provide scientists with a crucial piece of evidence that was missing from the Lucy find. The baby's skull and skeleton not only represent arguably the best example of A. afarensis found to date, but unlike Lucy the child's fossil includes fingers, a foot, a complete torso, and a face. (See more images of the discovery of "Lucy's baby" in National Geographic magazine.)

Scientists hope that the fossilized face will provide innumerable clues to what our ancient human ancestors looked like.


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