Ancient creature mixed human, apelike traits

Discovery baffles scientists.
Associated Press
Apr 12, 2013

Scientists have gained new insights into an extinct South African creature with an intriguing mix of human and apelike traits, and apparently an unusual way of walking. But they still haven't pinned down where it fits on our evolutionary family tree.

It will take more fossil discoveries to sort that out.

The human branch of the evolutionary tree, called Homo, is thought to have arisen from a group of ancient species called australopithecines. The newly studied species is a member of this group, and so its similarities to humans are enticing for tackling the riddle of how Homo appeared.

It's called Australopithecus sediba (aw-STRAL-oh-PITH-uh-kus se-DEE-bah), which means "southern ape, wellspring." It lived some 2 million years ago, and it both climbed in trees and walked upright. Its remains were discovered in 2008 when the 9-year-old son of a paleoanthropologist accidently came across a bone in South Africa.

A 2011 analysis of some of A. sediba's bones showed a combination of human and more apelike traits, like a snapshot of evolution in action. That theme continues in six papers published online Thursday by the journal Science, which complete the initial examination of two partial skeletons and an isolated shinbone.

Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University, lead author of one of the papers, said the fossils reveal an unexpected "mosaic of anatomies."

"I didn't think you could have this combination, that hand with that pelvis with that foot... And yet, there it is," he said.

DeSilva said he has no idea how A. sediba is related to humans, noting that the different traits argue for different conclusions.

Among the new analyses, the ribs show the creature's upper trunk resembled an ape's, while the lower part looked more like a human's. Arm bones other than the hand and wrist look primitive, reflecting climbing ability, while earlier analysis of the hand had shown mixed traits.

The teeth also show a mix of human and primitive features, and provide new evidence that A. sediba is closely related to early humans, said Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg of Ohio State University, a co-author of a dental analysis. It and an older South African species, A. africanus, appear more closely related to early humans than other australopithecines like the famous "Lucy" are, she said.

But she said the analysis can't determine which of the two species is the closer relative, nor whether A. sediba is a direct ancestor of humans.

Another study found a mix of human and apelike traits in leg bones, and concluded that A. sediba walked like no other known animal.

Its heel was narrow like an ape's, which would seem to prevent walking upright, but the more humanlike knee, pelvis and hip show A. sediba did just that, DeSilva said.

When people walk, they strike the ground with the heel first. But that would be disastrous from A. sediba's narrow heel bone, so instead the creature struck the ground first with the outside of the foot, DeSilva and co-authors propose. The foot would react by rolling inward, which is called pronation. In people, chronic pronation can cause pain in the foot, knees, hip and back, said DeSilva, who tried out the ancient creature's gait.

"I've been walking around campus this way, and it hurts," he said.

But the bones of A. sediba show features that evidently prevented those pain problems, he said. The creature apparently adopted this gait as a kind of compromise for a body that had to climb trees proficiently as well as walk upright, he said.


Malcolm Ritter can be followed at




Deleted for saying something about a porch? Really??


I bet I know what you said and I cant stop laughing!


To God:

Rap music? and otherwise,good looking men in baggy pants and covered in ugly ink ???

Why ? why? why?????



Liberal scientist is an oxymoron.

Liberals ignore clear scientific data that human life begins at conception in order to continue to advocate the legalized killing of humans

Then there's the whole homosexuality thing. To date no study has shown that being gay is genetic.

Don’t forget about the “faith” they have in the global warming myth.

Keep all this in mind when you hear some liberal invoking science with more fervor than a revivalist minister invoking Jesus. Unlike the minister, who has probably at least studied the Bible, liberals will invoke science they don't understand and declare fiction to be fact so long as it seems to support their political position.


Do you really believe that that science and faith cannot co-exist? Why does it have to be an either/or? The belief in a God, or whatever your faith calls a supreme being, requires a leap of faith. That is why religion requires that faith. Science is a process, a way of thinking, that tries to answer questions related to our natural world. It does not require faith or fidelity, and it also does not require us to leave faith out of our lives.


Science takes more faith to believe in than to believe in God.

example: Everything from nothing?


Who ever said everything came from nothing ? Not science .


You're sure about that?


Yes . There are many theories to what or what didn't come before this universe , theories are just that , theories . Until they can be verified beyond doubt they are not fact . There are all kinds of theories out there , but it is up to scientist to hold them up to scrutiny .


Science says everything came from the Big Bang.


That is one theory , scientist are still in the process of proving . 4shizzle , why are you fighting me on this ? I am actually supporting the idea that God could be possible . I guess when people blindly follow a faith they shut out all other possibilities . It's no wonder that people have twisted religion and made it the ugly thing it has become today . Tell me exactly what you believe in , instead of berating others comments . Let's hear some actual thoughts on the subject .


Why are you getting so crazy? You insisted that you were right. You said science didn't say that.

Science is the study of God's creation.


I am right , you are wrong .


I believe that there are two sides to reality.

For all my interest in scientific inquiry, it has never led to a crisis of faith. Au contraire, it was my thirst for knowledge that led to my finding the person of Jesus Christ.

I do not worship science. I worship its creator.


Good thinking, Think.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Your whole head is brown.


So you don't believe in the big bang? I fear for our children's future...


Think... your post comes from bits and pieces of an article found at


Try this article.


@mom I read's one for you.


"The Foundation of Human Understanding was founded by Roy Masters in 1963 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit church organization. As a recognized and registered religious organization, the Foundation is dedicated to assisting anyone who is interested in perfecting their spiritual natures through the principles of Judeo Christianity. We do this by providing counseling, materials, lectures and assistance to anyone through radio programs, published materials and the World Wide Web."

According to your link homosexuality can be cured. Every pages asks for a donation.

Here's a scary theory. What if the hormones that we are pumping into our meat is causing a change in developing embryo/fetus.


I don't believe life begins at conception . I think it always exists in some shape or form even before conception . The individual cells that make us up are alive . Even in death cell activity remains and when they do eventually die , contribute to life in other ways . As for your remark about homosexuality . I am sure their use of " homo " is referring to the genus of bipedal primates , and not Gay or Lesbian people . Your reaching Think . ; ))))


Say what?
If you are nothing but a bunch of cells and those cells live on without you-- what good are you--what is you?


For the lost, “ has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” Dawkins


Thanks, Think

I see where Bluto is coming from.
Dawkins isn't so smart.


Dawkins is a scientist , but his writings on the subject of God are philosophical .


So? I knew he was a scientist and I know what he says about God.
Also he's a Pastafarian and he cleans the elephant cage with his tongue.


Yep , More nonsense . You got nothing.


I don't know what you said but: ha ha ha at you.