An individual from an enigmatic hominid species strode across a field of wet, volcanic ash in what is now East Africa around 3.66 million years ago, leaving behind a handful of footprints.
Those five ancient impressions, largely ignored since their partial excavation at Tanzania’s Laetoli site in 1976, show hallmarks of upright walking by a hominid, a new study finds. Researchers had previously considered them hard to classify, possibly produced by a young bear that took a few steps while standing.
Nearby Laetoli footprints unearthed in 1978 looked more clearly like those of hominids and have been attributed to Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis (SN: 12/16/16). But the shape and
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