Science News & Updates 2016: New Evidence Suggest 'Lucy' The Ape, Our Human Ancestor, Spent Her Life Climbing Trees

By Maria Follet - 02 Dec '16 05:07AM

Paleoanthropologists are suggesting that "Lucy", the supposed ancient relative of humans had arm bones that are too strong which allow her to climb trees all her life.

There are several things to note: Lucy uses bipedalism, which means she can walk upright with two legs; also, her structure is 3.2 million year old. This puts her in between the period of evolution from apes to humans. Scientists are happy to learn that studying her species (Australopithecus afarensis) can lead to more new discoveries about human evolution in the days to come.

According to Science Daily, the study was released last Wednesday (November 30, 2016) by the Johns Hopkins Medicine. The topic is still debatable, though. However, some paleoanthropologists claim that the evidence about Lucy being a tree climber are very strong, based on her bone structure. The study also suggests that Lucy could be doing both, but with more tree climbing. Researchers have come to this realization after observing that Lucy's heavily-built bone structure is similar to that of the chimpanzees - animals which are known to climb trees a lot.

The study also suggests that Lucy might have spent more time up in the trees to hide from predators, to sleep 8 hours a day, and to look for food to eat. Johns Hopkins University professor Christopher Ruff, Ph. D. says that "[their] analysis required well-preserved upper and lower limb bones from the same individual, something very rare in the fossil record."

New York Times also notes that the study and researchers focused on how the bones get weakened or strengthened in everyday activities. The report says that researchers used 100 chimpanzees' bone samples and 1,000 modern human bone samples.

They found out that Lucy's bones in the arms are very much stronger than those of his legs. Doctor Ruff even added that humans cannot get the kind of strength in the arms Lucy has if humans do not do the kind of exercise / activities that she does, a statement that is very notable especially that the issue is still debatable as of press time.

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