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April 12 2013

Our closest ape-like ancestor went back to the trees


Our closest non-human ancestor lived in South Africa. That's the conclusion of a battery of studies carried out on two strange skeletons discovered near Johannesburg in 2008. They represent a likely stepping stone between the ape-like australopiths and the first members of our own genus.

The origins of the species remain surprisingly obscure. But the two skeletons, unusually, suggest our ancestor may have climbed back up into the trees after having evolved to walk on the ground.

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