Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'Lucy' is a cousin, not mother

She was classified as one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century: a small woman, slightly more than one meter tall, who lived in east Africa and died at 30, more than 3 million years ago. For more than three decades, Lucy and her kind were considered the ancient forbears of the human race, among the first to walk upright. But Tel Aviv University researchers revealed in a journal article published yesterday that Australopithecus afarensis, which walked nearly upright but had a brain resembling that of a chimpanzee, was nothing but a cousin of those forbears and belongs to a different branch of the human family - one that became extinct millions of years ago. The findings mean that researchers now recognize an evolutionary gap of more than 1 million years during which no fossils have been found that could be considered the ancient ancestors of humankind.(By Ofri Ilani from haaretz)

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