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Science. 2011 Feb 11;331(6018):750-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1201463.

Complete fourth metatarsal and arches in the foot of Australopithecus afarensis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, M263 Medical Sciences Building, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA. wardcv@missouri.edu

Erratum in

  • Science. 2011 Apr 15;332(6027):306.

Abstract

The transition to full-time terrestrial bipedality is a hallmark of human evolution. A key correlate of human bipedalism is the development of longitudinal and transverse arches of the foot that provide a rigid propulsive lever and critical shock absorption during striding bipedal gait. Evidence for arches in the earliest well-known Australopithecus species, A. afarensis, has long been debated. A complete fourth metatarsal of A. afarensis was recently discovered at Hadar, Ethiopia. It exhibits torsion of the head relative to the base, a direct correlate of a transverse arch in humans. The orientation of the proximal and distal ends of the bone reflects a longitudinal arch. Further, the deep, flat base and tarsal facets imply that its midfoot had no ape-like midtarsal break. These features show that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans and support the hypothesis that this species was a committed terrestrial biped.

PMID:
21311018
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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