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Lucy’s “great-grandfather” found

Anthropologists have found the remains of a creature that came from the same species as Lucy, but is 400,000 years older.

This skeleton, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has a much longer name than Lucy: It was dubbed Kadanuumuu, which means “big man” in Ethiopia’s Afar language. Like the 3.3 million-year-old Lucy skeleton, Kadanuumuu was found in the East African country’s Afar region, and shares the species name Australopithecus afarensis.

Australopiths are fossil species that share some traits with chimpanzees – for instance, protruding faces and small brains – but share other traits with humans. Most importantly, their skeletons appear to have been built for upright walking. Arizona State University paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, who discovered Lucy back in 1974, said the latest discovery adds to a “treasure trove” of hundreds of australopith fossils from East Africa.

“It’s like the El Dorado of paleoanthropology,” he told me.

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