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November 5, 2005

Illustration showing a pair of foraging Australopithecus afarensis

This illustration interprets a pair of foraging Australopithecus afarensis, known most famously from the fossil of "Lucy," unearthed by Donald C. Johanson in 1974 in Hader, Ethiopia.

What did early human ancestors look like? Fossil evidence reveals much, but proposed answers to this question must incorporate conjecture. For example, patterns of hair growth and coloration may remain forever unknown, although modern apes present reasonable analogies. Males (seen in the background here) were typically much larger and heavier than females. Afarensis was certainly adapted to upright walking, but still retained powerful arms for tree climbing. (Date of Image: 1999)

Credit: Michael Hagelberg/Arizona State University Research Magazine

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