Human Evolution. Discovery of Selam: Australopithecus afarensis.


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In 2000 Zeresenay Alemseged discovers Selam: Australopithecus afarensis

In 2000, Zeresenay Alemseged, a paleontologist of Ethiopian origin based in San Francisco, discovered the remains of Selam─which means Peace in African Ethiopia language ─in a region in Dikika, Ethiopia. It is the fossil of a 3-year-old child, belonging to the species Australopithecus afarensis, the same species to which Lucy belongs. Hence, Selam is also known as “Lucy’s baby.”

It is the earliest and most complete hominid fossil ever found, even more complete than Lucy.

Selam was lying 4 km away from the site where Lucy was found and is about 3.3 million years old, 150,000 years older than Lucy.

It took the team more than five years to separate the bones from the rock containing it. After studying the fossil, it is clear from the lower limbs that Selam was bipedal. However, its long fingers suggest she had adaptations for an arboreal life.

These findings make sense because environmental studies in the area indicate that although Dikika today is a very arid area, 3.3 million years ago it was near the delta of a river, all surrounded by trees and pastures.

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