Sat, Apr 29, 2017 | updated 02:55 PM IST

Human ancestor Lucy used to climb trees: Study

Updated: Dec 01, 2016 15:14 IST      
Human ancestor Lucy used to climb trees: Study

New Delhi [India], Dec.1 (ANI): According to a recent research, evidence preserved in the internal skeletal structure of the world-famous fossil, Lucy, suggests the ancient human species frequently climbed trees.

Published in the Plos One journal, the new analysis of the partially fossilized skeleton showed that Lucy's upper limbs were heavily built, similar to tree-climbing chimpanzees, supporting the idea that she often used her arms to pull herself up, most likely onto tree branches.

Researchers also suggest that because her foot was better adapted for bipedal locomotion -- or upright walking -- rather than grasping, Lucy had to rely on upper-body strength when climbing, which resulted in more heavily built upper-limb bones.

"It may seem unique from our perspective that early hominins like Lucy combined walking on the ground on two legs with a significant amount of tree climbing, but Lucy didn't know she was unique," said John Kappelman, whose most recent study proposed Lucy probably died after falling from a tall tree, where she may have been nesting to avoid predators.

A nightly ascent would equate to one-third of her life spent in trees -- or more if she occasionally foraged there, Kappelman said.

"We were able to undertake this study thanks to the relative completeness of Lucy's skeleton," said the study's lead author, Christopher Ruff.

Adding, "Our analysis required well-preserved upper and lower limb bones from the same individual, something very rare in the fossil record."

The team first examined Lucy, when the fossil was detoured briefly to the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility (UTCT).

For 10 days, researchers carefully scanned all of her bones to create a digital archive of more than 35,000 CT slices.

"We all love Lucy, but we had to face the fact that she is a rock," said Ketcham, adding that conventional CT is not powerful enough to image the internal structure of Lucy's heavily mineralized skeleton.

"The time for standard medical CT scanning was 3.18 million years ago.

This project required a scanner more suited to her current state," he said.

Since then, researchers have relied on the scans to look for clues about how Lucy lived, died and used her body -- estimated to be about 3 feet 6 inches and 60 pounds -- during her lifetime.

The most recent study focused on the internal structure of Lucy's right and left humeri (upper arm bones) and left femur (thigh bone).

A major issue in the debate about Lucy's tree climbing has been how to interpret skeletal features that might be simply leftover from a more primitive ancestor that had relatively long arms, for example.

The advantage of the new study is that it focused on characteristics that reflect actual behavior during life.

Some evidence even suggests she was right-handed, researchers said.

"Our study is grounded in mechanical engineering theory about how objects can facilitate or resist bending," Ruff said.

Adding, "Our results are intuitive because they depend on the sorts of things that we experience about objects -- including body parts -- in everyday life. If, for example, a tube or drinking straw has a thin wall, it bends easily, whereas a thick wall prevents bending. Bones are built similarly."

Lucy's scans were compared with CT scans from a large sample of modern humans, who spend the majority of their time walking on two legs on the ground, and with chimpanzees, a species that spends more of its time in the trees and, when on the ground, usually walks on all four limbs.

"It is a well-established fact that the skeleton responds to loads during life, adding bone to resist high forces and subtracting bone when forces are reduced," Kappelman said.

Adding, "Tennis players are a nice example: Studies have shown that the cortical bone in the shaft of the racquet arm is more heavily built up than that in the non-racquet arm."

Other comparisons in the study suggest that even when Lucy walked upright, she may have done so less efficiently than modern humans do, limiting her ability to walk long distances on the ground.

In addition, all of her limb bones were found to be very strong relative to her body size, indicating that she had exceptionally strong muscles, more like those of modern chimpanzees than modern humans.

A reduction in muscle power later in human evolution may be linked to better technology that reduced the need for physical exertion and the increased metabolic demands of a larger brain, the researchers said.(ANI)

IRW '17: Indian handlooms take the ramp to revival

Updated: Apr 29, 2017 14:29 IST      By: Pallavi Aman Singh

New Delhi [India], Apr 29 (ANI): In the current melange of high-street labels and fast fashion, India Runway Week (IRW) Season 8 saw Indian handlooms weave its magic on the ramp on Day 1.

Full Story >>

Anita Dongre all set to open two stores in New York

Updated: Apr 29, 2017 13:59 IST     

New Delhi [India], Apr 29 (ANI): Designer Anita Dongre, who has been showcasing her couture lines at the fashion weeks, has become the first Indian designer to open not one but two stores in SoHo, New York's prime shopping locality.

Full Story >>

Testosterone boosts confidence in men: Study

Updated: Apr 29, 2017 12:44 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], April 29 (ANI): A study has found that higher levels of testosterone in men may boost their confidence by increasing their tendency to rely more on intuitive judgments and reduce cognitive reflection.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], April 29 (ANI): A team of researchers has suggested that plastic surgeons should pay particular attention to the six danger zones from the forehead to the chin - areas commonly addressed by facial filler injection - to enhance safety and effectiveness of treatment.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Apr 29 (ANI): Facing challenges in your relationship? HappyMarriages.com is here to make things better.

Full Story >>

Social media unhappy with Dolce & Gabbana's new sneakers

Updated: Apr 29, 2017 03:41 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 29 (ANI): Looks like Dolce & Gabbana's latest luxury sneaker did not get quite a hearty welcome.

Full Story >>

Beer yoga lets you booze while you work out

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 16:13 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], April 28 (ANI): For all you beer lovers, here's another reason for you to add yoga to your routine!

Full Story >>

Heterogeneity may be adding years to a female's life

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 15:55 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 28 (ANI): All across the world, women enjoy longer lifespan. So, why is it so?

Full Story >>

Yoga your way to a menstrual disorder-free life

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 14:58 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 28 (ANI): You may want to add yoga to your routine as a recent study has suggested that asanas can help ward off menstrual disorders.

Full Story >>

Preparing Italian style coffee may cut prostate cancer risk

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 06:45 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], April 28 (ANI): Dear men, just three cups of coffee, prepared in an Italian way - high pressure, very high water temperature and with no filters - may reduce risk of prostate cancer by more than 50 percent, finds a study.

Full Story >>

Wego becomes fastest loading mobile travel site globally!

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 06:43 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): Wego.com, the travel marketplace in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, becomes the fastest loading mobile travel site in the world.

Full Story >>

Dive into your 'everyday' no fuss haven

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 06:43 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): The grub lovers can now dive into the eclectic mix of local food and signature cocktails in the city, which never falls short on classy cocktail lounges or on thirsty patrons, quickly shrinking wallets.

Full Story >>

Sun exposure, excessive heat can damage hair

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 05:10 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): The scorching sun, excessive perspiration, dust and dirt make our hair vulnerable in summers.

Full Story >>

This summer, no more discomfort for preggers

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 05:09 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): Body temperature of a pregger always remains a bit higher than normal, so added external heat obviously makes her feel uncomfortable.

Full Story >>

Need to sort out your marriage? App at service

Updated: Apr 28, 2017 05:04 IST     

New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): When the whole world is completely dependent on technology, then why to worry about the problems in a marriage.

Full Story >>

Asian Designer Week Summer 2017 to hit the ramp from May 5

Updated: Apr 27, 2017 20:07 IST     

New Delhi [India], Apr 27 (ANI): Asian Designer Week (ADW) is all set to hit the capital for the fourth time from May 5 to May 7.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Apr 27 (ANI-Businesswire India): Beating the downturn in the real estate market, Auramah Valley, the ultra luxury residential project is giving 50% - 60% return to its residents over the last 3 years

Full Story >>

Here's why milk is good for your child's growth

Updated: Apr 27, 2017 10:17 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 27 (ANI): A recent study suggests dairy proteins may be an even higher quality source of protein compared to vegetable-based protein sources than previously thought.

Full Story >>

Soy protein eases severity of inflammatory bowel disease

Updated: Apr 27, 2017 09:50 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 27 (ANI): People suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases should eat a diet supplemented with soy protein as it may serve as an effective adjunct therapy.

Full Story >>

Mothers drinking colas increase risk of obesity in kids

Updated: Apr 27, 2017 09:50 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 27 (ANI): Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should avoid taking diet high in fructose-containing sugars as it increases the risk of their kids being obese or diabetic.

Full Story >>