Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yi qi, The Chinese Gliding Dinosaur

A new scansoriopterygid theropod, Yi qi from the Middle–Upper Jurassic period Tiaojishan Formation of Hebei Province, China has large stiff filamentous feathers of an unusual type on both the forelimb and hindlimb.

These feathers resemble pinnate feathers in bearing morphologically diverse melanosomes. Most surprisingly, Yi has a long rod-like bone extending from each wrist, and patches of membranous tissue preserved between the rod-like bones and the manual digits.

Analogous features are unknown in any dinosaur but occur in various flying and gliding tetrapods, suggesting that Yi was a gliding dinosaur.

Read Brian Switek's story about Yi qi at

Born This Day: Richard Carlson

Carlson (April 29, 1912 – Nov. 24, 1977) starred as Dr. David Reid (center)in the classic Creature From The Black Lagoon (1957). You know that he was the “good” scientist cuz he got the girl, even though he let a cover story for Nature skulk back into the Lagoon.

Died This Day: Julie Ege

Nov. 12, 1943 – April 29, 2008
The late Julie Ege had the lead role as Nala in the 1971 Hammer film, “Creatures The World Forgot”.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chilesaurus, A Plant-Eating Theropod from Chile

An enigmatic plant-eating theropod from the Late Jurassic period of Chile. 2015. Novas, F., et al. Nature.

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi is a new, bizarre herbivorous basal tetanuran discovered at Aysén, a fossil locality in the Upper Jurassic Toqui Formation of southern Chile. The site yielded abundant and exquisitely preserved three-dimensional skeletons of small archosaurs. Several articulated individuals of Chilesaurus at different ontogenetic stages have been collected, as well as less abundant basal crocodyliforms, and fragmentary remains of sauropod dinosaurs (diplodocids and titanosaurians).

Chilesaurus had robust forelimbs similar to Jurassic theropods such as Allosaurus, although its hands were provided with two blunt fingers, unlike the sharp claws of fellow theropod Velociraptor. Chilesaurus' pelvic girdle resembles that of the ornithischian dinosaurs.

Chilesaurus can be considered a 'platypus' dinosaur because different parts of its body resemble those of other dinosaur groups due to mosaic convergent evolution. PR

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Premiered This Day (1956): The Creature Walks Among Us

Back on this day in 1956 the second sequel to The Creature From the Black Lagoon debuted. It's long been considered the weakest film in the trilogy, and it's hard to argue this given that they drag The Creature out of the Amazon, burn him in a fire, and convert him into an air-breathing humanoid with no hope of ever returning to the lagoon. But, when viewed today, the film reveals some deeper tones than I'm sure were originally intended.

The plot and language of the film can now be taken to speak directly to the hot-button topics of genetic manipulation of animals and foods, and man's destructive meddling with nature leading to accelerated rates of extinction. The movie moves beyond being a simple “monster on the rampage” story and actually has some pointed comments to make about science and politics. It's well worth watching on one of those upcoming hot, humid summer nights.

Watch the film in 8 minutes thanks to the Castle Films Super 8mm edited home version:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chicken Fest, London, UK

Here's a great blog post from our friend and master artist, Luis Rey, on his participation in Chicken Fest in London on April 23, 2015. Luis joined paleontologist, John Hutchinson, to talk about the links between chickens and dinosaurs and marvel at the giant chicken skeletons made by children as part of this art & science installation.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wooly Mammoth Genome

Complete genomes reveal signatures of demographic and genetic declines in the woolly mammoth. 2015. Palkopoulou et al. Current Biology.

Before the world's last woolly mammoth took its final breath, the iconic animals had already suffered from a considerable loss of genetic diversity. These findings, based on a comparison of the first complete genome sequences isolated from two ancient mammoth specimens.

One of those mammoths, representing the last population on Russia's Wrangel Island, is estimated to have lived about 4,300 years ago. The other specimen, from northeastern Siberia, is about 44,800 years old. The younger of the two specimens showed much lower genetic variation, including large stretches of DNA with no variation whatsoever - the mark of living in a very small population in which related individuals unavoidably mate with each other. PR

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Born This Day: James Flavin

Flavin (May 14, 1906 – April 23, 1976) starred in his first film (The Airmail Mystery) in 1932. After that he played mostly supporting characters in nearly four hundred films between 1932 and 1971, and in almost a hundred television episodes. He takes a bow here for playing Second Mate Briggs in King Kong (1933).

Sexual Dimorphism in Stegosaurus

Evidence for Sexual Dimorphism in the Plated Dinosaur Stegosaurus mjosi (Ornithischia, Stegosauria) from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Western USA.. 2015. PLoS ONE

Stegosaurs plates may have differed between males and females.
Stegosaurus, a large, herbivorous dinosaur, lived roughly 150 million years ago and had two staggered rows of bony plates along its back. Some individuals had tall plates and others had wide plates, which could be up to 45% larger than the tall plates.

Evan Saitta found that the tall-plated Stegosaurus and the wide-plated Stegosaurus were not two distinct species, nor were they individuals of different age: they were actually males and females. CT scanning and microscope analysis of the plates showed that the differences were not a result of growth, as the bone tissues had ceased growing in both varieties.

The presence of sexual dimorphism in an extinct species may provide scientists with a much clearer picture Stegosaurus behavior than would otherwise be possible. PR

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Changing the Picture of Earth’s Earliest Fossils

Changing the picture of Earth's earliest fossils (3.5-1.9 Ga) with new approaches and new discoveries. 2015. PNAS
New analysis of world-famous 3.46 billion-year-old rocks shows that structures once thought to be Earth's oldest microfossils do not compare with younger fossil candidates but have, instead, the character of peculiarly shaped minerals.
In 1993, US scientist Bill Schopf described tiny carbon-rich filaments within the 3.46 billion-year-old Apex chert (fine-grained sedimentary rock) from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which he likened to certain forms of bacteria, including cyanobacteria.

New high-spatial resolution data clearly demonstrate that the 'Apex chert microfossils' comprise stacks of plate-like clay minerals arranged into branched and tapered worm-like chains. Carbon was then absorbed onto the edges of these minerals during the circulation of hydrothermal fluids, giving a false impression of carbon-rich cell-like walls. PR

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Darwin, Wallace & Patrick Matthew: Who's Ideas on Evolution Came First?

Patrick Matthew (1790-1874) was a Scottish landowner with a keen interest in politics and agronomy who also came up with the concept of 'evolution by natural selection' 27 years before Charles Darwin did.
Matthew's version of evolution by natural section captures a valuable aspect of the theory that isn't so clear in Darwin's version - namely, that natural selection is a deductive certainty more akin to a 'law' than a hypothesis or theory to be tested.

Whilst Darwin and Wallace's 1858 paper to the Linnean Society, On the Origin of Species, secured their place in the history books, Matthews had set out similar ideas 27 years earlier in his book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. The book, published in 1831, addressed best practices for the cultivation of trees for shipbuilding, but also expanded on his concept of natural selection.

"There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles." (Matthew, 1831: 364) PR

Monday, April 20, 2015

Born This Day: Willi Henning

From the Willi Hennig Society :

Hennig (April 20, 1913 – Nov. 5, 1976) is best known for developing phylogenetic systematics,  a coherent theory of the investigation and presentation of the  relations that exist among species. Contrary to the position generally  held during his time, Hennig viewed historical inference as a strictly  logical and scientific endeavor. He first summarized his ideas in 1950  in German which became more widely known with the publication of the  English revision, Phylogenetic Systematics (Hennig, 1966).


Major Hennigian principles are:
1. Relationships among species are to be interpreted strictly genealogically, as sister-lineages, as clade relations. Empirically, a phylogenetic hypothesis may be determined.
2. Synapomorphies provide the only evidence for identifying relative recency of common ancestry. Synapomorphies are understood to be the shared-derived (evolved, modified) features of organisms.

3. Maximum conformity to evidence is sought  (his auxiliary principle). Choice among competing cladistic  propositions (cladograms) is decided on the basis of the greatest amount  of evidence, the largest number of synapomorphies explainable as  homologues.

4. Whenever possible, taxonomy must be logically consistent with the inferred pattern of historical relationships. The rule of monophyly is to be followed, thereby each clade can have its unique place in the hierarchy of taxonomic names.
More info about Henning HERE. photo.

Born This Day: Sir William Logan

From Today in Science History:

Logan (April 20, 1798 – June 22, 1875) was a Canadian geologist dubbed the "Father of Canadian Geology." He began is career making geologic maps of coalfields in Wales, noting the relationship between the underlying clay layers and fossil tree roots with local coal beds. This substantiated the theory that coal beds are formed in place.

When he began as director (1842-69) of the new Geological Survey of Canada, its geology was virtually unknown. He produced the monumental Report on the Geology of Canada (1863) which recorded 20 years of research, fieldwork, plotting maps, preparing reports, and examining fossil and mineral specimens.

Image and more info from Natural Resources Canada. For a more colourful summary of the man and his life go HERE.

Born This Day: Bruce Cabot

Cabot (April 20, 1904 – May 3, 1972) saved Fay Wray from King Kong back in 1933, one of eight films he made that year.

Died This Day: Robert Armstrong

Armstrong (Nov. 20, 1890 – April 20, 1973) took Fay Wray to Skull Island in 1933. He returned later the same year to find The Son of Kong, only to lose him as the island sank, as these things are prone to doing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Died This Day: Charles Darwin

Feb. 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882


More about Darwin HERE.

Died This Day: Louis Dollo

Louis Antoine Marie Joseph Dollo (Dec. 7, 1857 – April 19, 1931) was a French vertebrate paleontologist who stated Dollo's Law of Irreversibility whereby in evolution an organism never returns exactly to its former state such that complex structures, once lost, are not regained in their original form. (While generally true, some exceptions are known.)

He began as an assistant (1882), became keeper of mammals (1891) at the Royal Museum of Natural History in Brussels where he stayed most of his life. He was a specialist in fossil fishes, reptiles, birds, and their palaeoecology. He supervised the excavation of the famous, multiple Iguanodons found in 1878 by miners deep underground, at Bernissart, Belgium. image From Today In Science History

Born This Day: The Father of Micropaleontology

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (April 19, 1795 - June 27, 1876) was a German biologist, microscopist, explorer and micropaleontologist who has been called the founder of micropaleontology. 

Ehrenberg's microscopical research was the first to treat in a scientific way that mass of minute beings that had formerly been vaguely known as the “infusoria,” both living or fossils.

He revealed that certain forms of rock, especially chalk, were composed of minute forms of animals or plants, among which were forms he was first to discover and characterize. Ehrenberg also did extensive work on diatoms and the foraminifera. From Today in Science History

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Died This Day: Erasmus Darwin

Erasmus (Dec. 12, 1731 – April 18, 1802) was a prominent English physician, poet, philosopher, botanist, naturalist and the grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin and the biologist Francis Galton. Erasmus Darwin was one of the leading intellectuals of 18th century England.

As a naturalist, he formulated one of the first formal theories on evolution in Zoonomia, or, The Laws of Organic Life (1794-1796). Although he did not come up with natural selection, he did discuss ideas that his grandson elaborated on sixty years later, such as how life evolved from a single common ancestor, forming "one living filament".

Although some of his ideas on how evolution might occur are quite close to those of Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin also talked about how competition and sexual selection could cause changes in species. link

Download Zoonomia HERE

Died This Day: William Arkell

Arkell (June 9, 1904 - April 18, 1958) was an English paleontologist who was an authority on Jurassic ammonites and their environments. He wrote Jurassic Geology of the World (1956), which critically reviewed the information dispersed throughout the world's enormous literature on the world's Jurassic stratigraphy.

He made numerous contributions to knowledge of the Jurassic stratigraphy, and gradually stabilized many stratigraphically significant zonal assemblages. In 1946, his "Standard of the European Jurassic" advocated a commission formulate a code of rules for stratigraphical nomenclature. image From Today In Science History:

Quirks & Quarks Interview: Live Birth in Mosasaurs

Click here to listen to Bob McDonald interview Aaron LeBlanc from the University of Toronto talk about his research that's supports the idea that mosasaurs gave birth to live young in the water, just like modern whales.

Born This Day: Noble Johnson

“Meanwhile, the light-skinned Noble Johnson (April 18, 1881 – Jan. 9, 1978) was heavily made up for his role as the village chief [in 1933's, KING KONG]—he was a leading black actor of the era (known as “America’s premiere Afro-American screen star” in the black press) and therefore worth the extra consideration. Johnson, an ex-cowboy, horse trainer, and boxer, had quite a resume before portraying the Chief of Skull Island.

He was a student of all aspects of movie making from directing to distribution, and instrumental in the 1916 formation of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, created to produce what were called “race movies.” Johnson left the company after it had released three films, rumored to have been “encouraged” by Universal to do so or lose any opportunity for parts at the bigger studio.

Johnson - a childhood friend of Lon Chaney - portrayed a variety of ethnicities in his long career; one of the few black actors of Hollywood’s early era to be allowed any diversity in roles.” From Kong Is

Friday, April 17, 2015

Premiered This Day (1981): Caveman

Directed by Carl Gottlieb and starring Ringo Starr, this film is probably best known for introducing Starr to his future wife, Barbara Bach. Famed Animator Jim Danforth oversaw the creation of the dinosaurs.

A more interesting film with overtones of The Creature From The Black Lagoon (0:57) is Island of the Fish Men, also starring Bach.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Premiered This Day: Women of The Prehistoric Planet

Written and directed by Arthur C. Pierce, and starring the perennial C-list actor John Agar (who had his own Prehistoric Theme Park!), this is just about as bad as it gets.

Died This Day: Wallace Beery

Wallace Fitzgerald Beery (April 1, 1885 – April 15, 1949) was an American actor who appeared in more than 250 films in over 36 years. At 16 he ran away from home and joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant elephant trainer, but left two years later, after being clawed by a leopard.

His career spanned the transition from silent movies to the talkies. He won an Academy award in 1931 for his starring role in The Champ, becomeing one of Hollywood's top stars in the 1930's. The hard-drinking Beery was implicated in the beating death of Ted Healy, the original leader of the Three Stooges. Beery is presented here for his starring role as Prof. Challenger in the 1925 movie, The Lost World.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Herb Trimpe, R.I.P.

The Incredible Hulk © Marvel Comics

Artist Herb Trimpe passed away on April 13, 2015, at the young age of 75 years. A giant of an artist, he worked mostly at Marvel and was known as most readers favourite Hulk artist. He drew more then a few dinosaurs and had a long run illustrating Marvel's Godzilla book back in the 80's.

Mark Evanier has a nice piece on Herb here

Llallawavis scagliai, a New Mesembriornithinae 'Terror Bird'

A new Mesembriornithinae (Aves, Phorusrhacidae) provides new insights into the phylogeny and sensory capabilities of terror birds. 2015. Degrange, F.J., et al., JVP

A new species of South American fossil terror bird called Llallawavis scagliai ("Scaglia's Magnificent Bird") is shedding light on the diversity of the group and how these giant extinct predators interacted with their environment. The new specimen also reveals details of anatomy that rarely preserve in the fossil record, including the auditory region of the skull, voice box, complete trachea, bones for focusing the eye.

Terror birds, or phorusracids as they are known scientifically, were carnivorous flightless birds up to 3 meters (10 ft) in height with tall hooked beaks. These birds were the predominant predators during the Cenozoic Age in South America. PR

Monday, April 13, 2015

Died This Day: Amanz Gressly

Gressly (July 17, 1814 - April 13, 1965) was a Swiss geologist and paleontologist who was a pioneer, and regarded by some as the founder, of paleogeography. He is known for his work identifying stratigraphic facies (“aspects de terrain”) recognizing lateral regional variations in the character and fossil content of rock strata resulting from the environmental differences at the time of original deposition.

He wrote Observations Géologiques sur le Jura Soleurois on his studies of facies (a term he coined) he found in the Jura Mountains. His fossil collection had 25,000 specimens. He was appointed as an assistant to Louis Agassiz at Neuchâtel. The dinosaur Gresslyosaurus (Platyosaurus) was named in 1857 to honour him. From Today In Science History

Ocean Acidification & the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction

Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. 2015. Clarkson, et al. Science

Art by Basil Wolverton
Changes to the Earth's oceans, caused by extreme volcanic activity, triggered the greatest extinction of all time 252 million years ago that wiped out more than 90 per cent of marine species and more than two-thirds of the animals living on land.
Abstract[edit]: Ocean acidification triggered by Siberian Trap volcanism was a possible kill mechanism for the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction, but direct evidence for an acidification event is lacking.

In the latest Permian, increased ocean alkalinity primed the Earth system with a low level of atmospheric CO2 and a high ocean buffering capacity. The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota. PR

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Died This Day: Edward Drinker Cope

Art © Mark Schultz
"What truly assured Cope's (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897; above right) place in the history of paleontology and even eclipsed his science was his bitter feud with Yale University paleontologist O.C. Marsh (above left).

What began as a friendly rivalry in the late 1860s, broke out into all out war in 1872 and then raged on until Cope's death in 1897.

Both Cope and Marsh were recipients of family fortunes and they used their wealth to discover new fossils and to reconstruct ancient life. This scramble literally propelled American science into the forefront of paleontology."
Read about Cope HERE.

Combat & Cannibalism in Tyrannosaurs

Pre- and postmortem tyrannosaurid bite marks on the remains of Daspletosaurus (Tyrannosaurinae: Theropoda) from Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. PeerJ 3:e885

Image by Luis Rey

A new study documents injuries inflicted in life and death to a large tyrannosaurine dinosaur. The paper shows that the skull of a genus of tyrannosaur called Daspletosaurus suffered numerous injuries during life, at least some of which were likely inflicted by another Daspletosaurus. It was also bitten after death in an apparent event of scavenging by another tyrannosaur. PR

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Life Birth in Mosasaurs

Pelagic neonatal fossils support viviparity and precocial life history of Cretaceous mosasaurs. 2015. Field, et al. Palaeontology

Illustration by Julius T. Csotonyi
Paleontologists now believe that mighty mosasaurs -- which could grow to 50 feet long -- gave birth to their young in the open ocean, not on or near shore.
In their study, Field and his colleagues describe the youngest mosasaur specimens ever found that were previously been thought to belong to ancient marine birds. Field and Aaron LeBlanc concluded that the specimens showed a variety of jaw and teeth features that are only found in mosasaurs. Also, the fossils were found in deposits in the open ocean.

"Contrary to classic theories, these findings suggest that mosasaurs did not lay eggs on beaches and that newborn mosasaurs likely did not live in sheltered nearshore nurseries." PR

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dr. Philip Currie Speaking at the CMNH Friday, April 10th

If you're in the Cleveland, Ohio area, Dr. Philip Currie will be giving a talk on Friday April 10th at 7pm on 'Dinosaurs at the end of Earth: Antarctica and Argentina' as part of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Explorer series.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Died This Day: Robert Broom

Robert Broom (Nov. 30, 1866 – April 6, 1951) was a South African doctor and paleontologist. From 1903 to 1910 he was professor of zoology and geology at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, South Africa, and subsequently he became keeper of vertebrate paleontology at the South African Museum, Cape Town.

Broom was first known for his study of mammal-like reptiles. After Raymond Dart's discovery of the Taung Child, an infant australopithecine, Broom's interest in paleoanthropology was heightened. In 1934 he jojned the staff of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria as an Assistant in Palaeontology.

In the following years, he made a series of spectacular finds, including fragments from six hominids in Sterkfontein, which he named Plesianthropus transvaalensis. In 1937, Broom made his most famous discovery of Paranthropus robustus. These discoveries helped support Dart's claims for the Taung species.

The remainder of Broom's career was devoted to the exploration of these sites and the interpretation of the many early hominid remains discovered there. In 1946 he proposed the Australopithecinae subfamily. From

Born This Day: James Watson

From Today In Science History:

Watson was born on this day in 1928. An American geneticist and biophysicist, he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins) for the discovery of "the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material." Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the substance contained in cells that controls heredity.

Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Died This Day: Hermann Joseph Muller

The father of radiation genetics, Muller (Dec. 21, 1890 – April 5, 1967) began his career with T.H. Morgan studying mutations in fruit flies. He was the first to increase the mutation rate using heat, later using 50 kilovolt X-rays to induce an even greater incidence of mutations. Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1946.

Muller long warned about needless exposures to radiation and their associated risks of cancer and heritable genetic effects. By the late 1940s, the nuclear weapons testing program had begun and Muller was a vocal critic of the Atomic Energy Commission's views on the hazards of worldwide fallout.

FF © Marvel Comics
Info from here and here.

Born This Day: Alpheus Hyatt

From Today in Science History:

Hyatt (April 5, 1838 - Jan. 15, 1902) was a U.S. zoologist and paleontologist who studied invertebrate fossil records, the evolution of the cephalopods (a class of mollusks including squids and octopuses) and the development of primitive organisms.

Along with E. Cope, Hyatt was the most prominent American neo-Lamarckian. Based on the analogy of ontogeny with phylogeny, Hyatt claimed that lineages, like individuals, had cycles of youth, old age, and death (extinction). This idea became the bulwark of orthogenetic theories in the U.S.

Hyatt was the founder and first editor of the American Naturalist, and first president of Woods Hole laboratory.

Founded This Day: The British Museum

From Today in Science History:

In 1753, the British Museum was founded by an Act of Parliament. Since then, the museum has been collecting, conserving and studying millions of artifacts. The British Museum was among the first museums to recognize that in-house scientific expertise was essential, both for the care of its collections and for their proper interpretation. Its Research Laboratory was founded in 1920 with the appointment of Dr Alexander Scott as its first scientist.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Born This Day: Ralph A. Bagnold

An English geologist (April 3, 1896 - May 28, 1990) who was a leading authority on the mechanics of sediment transport, especially eolian (wind) transport. While serving as a soldier in Egypt prior to WW II, Bagnold first studied sand dune formation and movement. After retiring from the army (1935), he continued his research and wrote the book "Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes", investigating the physics of particles moving through the atmosphere and deposited by wind.

Art © Darwyn Cooke. Sand Seref & The Spirit © Estate of Will Eisner
He recognized two basic dune types, the crescentic dune, which he called "barchan," and the linear dune, which he called longitudinal or "sief" (Arabic for "sword"). During WW II, his avocational interest in vehicle performance on blowing sand aided the Allies in North Africa. Link

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Published This Day: DNA Double Helix

From Today in Science History:

On this day in 1953, the journal Nature published a paper from Francis Crick and James Watson, titled Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, in which they described a double helix structure for DNA.

Download the paper from Nature HERE.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New Burial Ages for Australopithecus

New cosmogenic burial ages for Sterkfontein Member 2 Australopithecus and Member 5 Oldowan. 2015. Nature

A skeleton named Little Foot is among the oldest hominid skeletons ever dated at 3.67 million years old, according to an advanced dating method.

Little Foot is a rare, nearly complete skeleton of Australopithecus first discovered 21 years ago in a cave at Sterkfontein, in central South Africa. The new date places Little Foot as an older relative of Lucy, a famous Australopithecus skeleton dated at 3.2 million years old that was found in Ethiopia. It is thought that Australopithecus is an evolutionary ancestor to humans that lived between 2 million and 4 million years ago.

Stone tools found at a different level of the Sterkfontein cave also were dated at 2.18 million years old, making them among the oldest known stone tools in South Africa.