A new hominin foot from Ethiopia shows multiple Pliocene bipedal adaptations

Nature. 2012 Mar 28;483(7391):565-9. doi: 10.1038/nature10922.


A newly discovered partial hominin foot skeleton from eastern Africa indicates the presence of more than one hominin locomotor adaptation at the beginning of the Late Pliocene epoch. Here we show that new pedal elements, dated to about 3.4 million years ago, belong to a species that does not match the contemporaneous Australopithecus afarensis in its morphology and inferred locomotor adaptations, but instead are more similar to the earlier Ardipithecus ramidus in possessing an opposable great toe. This not only indicates the presence of more than one hominin species at the beginning of the Late Pliocene of eastern Africa, but also indicates the persistence of a species with Ar. ramidus-like locomotor adaptation into the Late Pliocene.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Ethiopia
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Foot Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Foot Bones / physiology
  • Fossils
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Hominidae / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Walking / physiology*