Mon, Jul 24, 2017 | updated 12:29 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)

Washington D.C. [USA], July 24 (ANI): Prince William and Prince Harry have spoken out about the regret over their last conversation with their mother Princess Diana, who died 20 years ago in a car crash in Paris.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): In an initiative to eradicate superstition from the country, Vedic Grace Foundation, has introduced 'Conscious Prophecy' in India.

Full Story >>

Food hygiene tips for Monsoon

Updated: Jul 24, 2017 04:22 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): Monsoon brings with it an end to the scorching summer heat and a sigh of relief for everyone.

Full Story >>

This time, go on vacay to these self-drive destinations

Updated: Jul 24, 2017 04:21 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): Self-drive trip, as a travel trend, is slowly catching up in India. It is an immersive way to travel, exploring places with freedom and flexibility, which not only gives a sense of independence, but allows one to do things at their own pace.

Full Story >>

Magical herbs to keep you healthy during monsoon

Updated: Jul 24, 2017 03:37 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): After the scorching summer heat, monsoons are definitely a welcome change, which works as a rejuvenation period for mankind.

Full Story >>

Here's how Hyperloop tech will 'transform' transportation

Updated: Jul 23, 2017 14:33 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 23 (ANI): Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk recently hit the headlines with his tweet about receiving verbal government approval to build an underground Hyperloop between New York and Washington D.C., with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Full Story >>

Stressed-out kids? Here are 'best' coping strategies

Updated: Jul 23, 2017 12:07 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 23 (ANI): Between homework, schoolwork, exams and test anxiety, post-school activities and bullying, kids can be super stressed out, but now, a team of researchers has outlined which coping strategies work best.

Full Story >>

Yes, you can drown on dry land!

Updated: Jul 23, 2017 11:47 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 23 (ANI): Turns out, drowning isn't always violent and chaotic - It can be unassuming and outside of a pool.

Full Story >>

This shoulder fix can help injured athletes return to play

Updated: Jul 23, 2017 11:31 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 23 (ANI): Now, patients with irreparable rotator cuff tears may have a surgical option, according to a new research.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 23 (ANI): Patients, who take opioids prior to Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery, are 10 times more likely to be on pain medications longer, a recent study has found.

Full Story >>

This Monsoon, eat your way to a better health with these fruits

Updated: Jul 22, 2017 18:33 IST      By: Pallavi Aman Singh

New Delhi [India], Jul 22 (ANI): Monsoon is here! Whether you're dancing with joy or sulking at home to avoid the rains, it's that time of the year when a plate full of hot samosas and bhajjiyas is all you crave.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 22 (ANI): A recent study has paved the way for new sex-specific treatments after finding that the causes of severe antisocial behaviour may differ between boys and girls.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): The world eagerly anticipated the premiere of Game of Thrones season 7 but fans aren't waiting for winter to come to enjoy Seven Kingdoms-inspired vacations, as Hotels.com™ reports a dramatic hike in searches to the stunning destinations featured in the series.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): Actress Sonam Kapoor effortlessly grabbed everyone's eyeballs by walking the ramp to present Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla's couture collection at a bridal event here.

Full Story >>

High-fat pregnancy diet risks offspring's mental health

Updated: Jul 22, 2017 10:29 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], Jul 22 (ANI): Moms-to-be, you may want to put eating high-fat diet on your to-don't list as a recent study has linked it with health disorders such as anxiety and depression in children.

Full Story >>

Prince George looks adorable in fourth b`day portrait

Updated: Jul 22, 2017 07:00 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): To mark his fourth birthday, a new image of Prince George has been released by his parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge.

Full Story >>

Here's how you can add lace, sheer fabrics to your wardrobe

Updated: Jul 22, 2017 06:30 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): This year is all about '80s fashion - lace, sheer and ruffles. These fabric styles add zeal to the simplest of the outfits and make you look super chic.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], July 21 (ANI): A BharatMatrimony matchmaking survey to find out "What people expect from a life partner" saw a whopping 11,682 participants share their opinions.

Full Story >>

This monsoon, rediscover yourself amid misty hills!

Updated: Jul 21, 2017 18:35 IST     

New Delhi [India], July 21 (ANI): There are numerous ways to enjoy the rains but nothing can beat the thrill of going on a trek and rediscovering yourself amidst misty mountains.

Full Story >>

Is teen drinking okay if supervised?

Updated: Jul 21, 2017 13:37 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], July 21 (ANI): Parents, you may want to not introduce your teenagers to alcohol as a recent study has found that rather than encouraging better drinking habits in adulthood, it could be doing more harm.

Full Story >>