Discovery of 3.4 Million Year Old Partial Foot Proves “Lucy” Walked with Cousins

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History announced yesterday the discovery of a 3.4 million year old partial foot from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia. The discovery proves that there was more than one prehuman hominid that roamed the earth at the same time as the infamous “Lucy” or Australopithecus afarensis. Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, curator of physical anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, was the lead author and project leader of this magnificent expedition. His analysis will be published in the March 29th edition of the Journal Nature.

Fourth Metatarsal
Fourth Metatarsal from the Partial Foot (Courtesy of Cleveland Museum)

It appears that this particular hominid was a tree dweller judging from the big toe of the foot. While “Lucy’s” toes were pretty much aligned like modern humans, this species had an opposable big toe. This was definitely an unusual find. Co-author and project co-leader Dr. Bruce Latimer of Case Western Reserve University said, “These fossil elements represent bones we’ve never seen before. While the grasping big toe could move from side to side, there was no expansion on top of the joint that would allow for expanded range of movement required for pushing off the ground for upright walking. This individual would have likely had a somewhat awkward gait when on the ground.” Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie explains the find in the video embedded below.

(Video Link)

This discovery puts to rest the long standing thought that there was only one prehuman species that existed between 3 and 4 million years ago. Unfortunately, scientists cannot assign a species to this partial foot because an associated skull has yet to be found. Research in the area will continue in hopes that will find a matching skull.

For more information  about the Woranso-Mille Project, visit the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s website at

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Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!