Seven million years ago: Pre-humans walked upright much earlier

Research into early human history and the question of when our ancestors learned to walk has yielded new insights: by examining bones found in Africa, a team of researchers has come to the conclusion that early human ancestors walked upright seven million years ago.

Seven million years ago: Pre-humans walked upright much earlier

Research into early human history and the question of when our ancestors learned to walk has yielded new insights: by examining bones found in Africa, a team of researchers has come to the conclusion that early human ancestors walked upright seven million years ago.

Early human ancestors walked through Africa on two legs seven million years ago. This is now confirmed by studies of two forearm bones and one femur of Sahelanthropus tchadensis found in Chad. Researchers from France and Chad report this in the journal "Nature".

The condition of the femur indicates that pre-humans typically walked on two legs on the ground, but also climbed trees. Studies of the forearm bones show that Sahelanthropus tchadensis was also able to move in trees using its arms and firm grips.

After finding a skull bone and teeth in the Djurab desert in northern Chad in 2001, researchers concluded from the location where the spine is anchored in the skull that Sahelanthropus tchadensis moved on two legs. The now examined forearm and thigh bones are also assigned to pre-humans, since no other large primate was discovered at the excavation site. According to the researchers, it is not possible to say whether the skull and bones come from the same individual.

The researchers conclude that the study presented supports the idea that upright gait was acquired very early in human history. At seven million years old, Sahelanthropus tchadensis is believed to be the oldest representative of mankind. His forearm bones already indicated a firm grip with his hands, which is clearly different from the four-footedness of gorillas and chimpanzees.

Years ago, other studies had confirmed that human ancestors were walking upright in Africa several million years ago. The pre-human species Orrorin tugenensis is said to have walked on two legs in Kenya around six million years ago, and Australopithecus also in Africa around four million years ago. How human-like the various ancestors were and where they should be placed on the human lineage is a matter of controversy among researchers.

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