3.3-million-year-old fossil reveals the antiquity of the human spine

An international research team slowly chipped away at the sandstone surrounding Selam at the National Museums of Ethiopia to reveal something remarkable--even though millions of years have passed, she's a lot like us. Selam, which means “peace” in the Ethiopian Amharic language, was an early human relative from the species Australopithecus afarensis--the same species as the famous Lucy skeleton. The findings indicate that Selam possesses the most complete spinal column of any early fossil human relative, and her vertebral bones, neck and rib cage are mainly intact. This new research demonstrates that portions of the human skeletal structure were established millions of years earlier than previously thought.

Provided by University of Missouri

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