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A team of scientists from the United States has managed to discover that the human being developed his spine and managed to walk upright several million years earlier than previously thought, according to a study published in the journal PNAS.
The scientists relied on the skeleton of «Selam", a girl Australopithecus Afarensis three years old and more than 3.3 million years old that was found in Ethiopia in 2000, but only now have they been able to finish cleaning the pieces and identifying them.
This skeleton is about the most complete sample of the spine of a hominid found so far, including vertebrae, neck and rib cage. "Meticulous investigations of the skeleton showed that the structure of the human spine arose around 3.3 million years ago, shedding light on one of the hallmarks of human evolution," explained Zeray Alemseged of the University of Chicago.
The human spine shares characteristics with those of other primates, but it also has some unique characteristics of its kind that allow it to walk upright, such as have fewer thoracic vertebrae and more dorsal vertebrae.
Despite this important finding, it is not possible to identify so easily when this pattern evolved not having yet found a set of vertebrae of early species that suggest the aforementioned in the previous paragraph.
"Selam gave us a first glimpse of how the spine of our early ancestors was organized," added Carol Ward, a scientist at Mossouri University School of Medicine.
This unusual configuration in an early human may be the key to developing more accurate scenarios about the evolution of standing and the modern shape of the human body, "he said.
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