Thursday, September 28, 2006
Selam: Species Identification of 'Lucy's Child' Challenged By Anthropologist from Pittsburgh University
Pittsburg: According to University of Pittsburgh anthropology professor Jeffrey Schwartz (homepage), author of the four-volume The Human Fossil Record, Craniodental Morphology of Early Hominids and Overview (Amazon UK | US), "the discovery of any largely complete skeleton of an ancient human relative would be unique. The fact that it is a child makes it even more exciting because of what its bones and teeth might reveal that an adult's cannot."
However, Schwartz said, there are questions about the species this specimen represents. He explained that the problem is that "Lucy" and this child specimen ("Selam") from Dikika have been placed in Australopithecus afarensis, which is not from Ethiopia but from Laetoli, a site in Tanzania thousands of kilometers to the south. But while other specimens from Laetoli are similar to this specimen, defined as A. afarensis, a recent study of virtually all the fossils from Lucy's region of Hadar by Schwartz and Ian Tattersall, curator of anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, has revealed that none is similar in detail to the fossils from Laetoli.
"This means, of course, that no Hadar specimen is A. afarensis," said Schwartz, a fellow of the prestigious World Academy of Arts and Science. [Evolution, Pitt, Hominid]
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