Researchers have for the first time digitally reconstructed the missing soft tissue of an early human ancestor (hominin), revealing a capability to stand as erect as we Homo sapiens do today (Royal Society Open Science).
Cambridge University researcher 3D-modelled the leg and pelvis muscles of the hominin Australopithecus afarensis using scans of ‘Lucy’: the famous fossil specimen discovered in Ethiopia in the mid-1970s. The research recreated 36 muscles in each leg, most of which were much larger in Lucy and occupied greater space in the legs compared to modern humans.
Australopithecus afarensis was an early human species that lived in East Africa over three million years ago. Shorter than modern humans, with an ape-like face and smaller brain, but able to walk on two legs, it adapted to both tree and savannah dwelling — helping the species survive for almost a million years.