- New Science in Brief
New Human Ancestor Walked Like Us, Climbed Like an Ape
Strong hands and shock-resistant wrists gave the ancient human Homo naledi an advantage over ape cousins.
The mysterious human ancestor called Homo naledi was primed for success in a prehistoric triathlon, new research shows—if the challenges were walking upright, climbing trees, and handily wielding tools.
Based on fossils retrieved from South Africa’s Rising Star cave, two teams reconstructed the locomotor habits of Homo naledi, reported Tuesday in Nature Communications. With funding from National Geographic, one took a close look at 107 foot bones, the other at 26 bones from a nearly complete right hand.
(Read about the recent discovery of Homo naledi.)
In most respects, the H. naledi foot looks surprisingly like a modern human’s. Its ankle joint, parallel big toe and wide heel bone belong to a striding biped, a creature fully adapted to