Scientists uncover 3.3-million-years-old child human ancestor in Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, September 20, 2006
Scientists working in Ethiopia have discovered skeleton of a three-year-old girl who lived 3.3 million years ago, that is 150,000 years before Lucy in Dikika area, North Eastern Ethiopia, Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged of the Max Plank Institute in Leipzig, Germany said.
While officially declaring the discovery here on Wednesday, Dikika Research Project Paleo-anthropological Research Team Leader, Dr. Zeresenay said the skeleton is the earliest and most complete ever found.
The first piece of the child was found on December 10, 2000 in Dikika area. Recovering the partial skeleton, however, required intensive searching and sifting over four successive field seasons from 2000 – 2004, he said.
Other parts of the upper part of the skeleton and all elements of the lower part were discovered in the first year and subsequent years by project members, he added.
“The scientific significance of the finding is multifold, contributing substantially to our understanding of the morphology, body plan, behavior, movement and development patterns of our early ancestors,” Dr. Zeresenay said.
“Reconstruction of an entire body of a three year old Australopithecus afarensis child would take place after full cleaning and preparation of the fossil,” he added.
Speaking at the official declaration of the find, Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mohammoud Dirir stressed that the find has great contribution in addressing the question of human origin and advancing the frontier of science in the field.
The Minister further said, out of the 14 human and pre-human fossils that have so far been uncovered around the world, 10 are from Ethiopia.
In making the research work successful, the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural has provided the necessary assistance, he added.
The article concerning the earliest baby girl ever discovered is published in the journal NATURE on 21st September 2006.
The Ethiopian News Agency