Research

Human evolution: back to the trees?

Scientists have discovered interesting new clues inthe spinal columns of the ancient ancestors of people, which indicate that their different subspecies moved differently depending on the environment. Published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, a study of the hook-shaped processes of the vertebrae, which are responsible for the stabilization and direction of spinal motion, evaluates their shape in six fossil hominids in comparison with modern human and 99 non-human primates in 20 genera. Using new morphometric methods, scientists found clear differences between the hook-shaped processes of living primates, which usually live on trees, and those that do not live.

New evidence reveals startlingthe differences between the vertebrae of all terrestrial types and the types of primates that sway and jump from branch to branch, and can help to understand how the extinct species of hominids moved in their environment. Fossils from East Africa dated 3.5 million years ago and belonging to Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy species), and Homo erectus dated 1.8-1.5 million years ago correspond to modern humans in this regard, which suggests that these extinct hominids learned to walk the earth. In contrast, fossils from South Africa, belonging to the Australopithecus sediba hominid species, showed processes that assist in moving through trees.

Scientists say, although South African species, byapparently, they were not completely “torn off the ground”; their hook-shaped processes show adaptation to life on trees. Theoretically, if it weren’t for the "upright man" to win the battle for survival, we could also lead an elevated way of life.