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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Little Foot’s Inner Ears Analyzed

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Little Foot earsJOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Live Science reports that the 3.67-million-year-old female Australopithecus individual known as “Little Foot” is likely to have walked more like a chimpanzee than a modern human, according to a new study led by Amélie Beaudet and Ronald Clarke of the University of the Witwatersrand. The researchers scanned the interior of Little Foot's fossil skull and constructed a virtual 3-D model of the tiny structures in its inner ear. They then compared Little Foot’s anatomy to the inner ears of 17 early hominin species, 10 modern humans, and 10 chimpanzees. The study concluded that Little Foot’s ear canals are ape-like, and most closely resemble those of chimpanzees. Since the structures of the inner ear are linked to balance, Australopithecus may have moved in a way similar to chimpanzees as well. For more, go to “Cosmic Rays and Australopithecines.”

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