Sterkfontein member 2 foot bones of the oldest South African hominid

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Science  28 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5223, pp. 521-524
DOI: 10.1126/science.7624772


Four articulating hominid foot bones have been recovered from Sterkfontein Member 2, near Johannesburg, South Africa. They have human features in the hindfoot and strikingly apelike traits in the forefoot. While the foot is manifestly adapted for bipedalism, its most remarkable characteristic is that the great toe (hallux) is appreciably medially diverged (varus) and strongly mobile, as in apes. Possibly as old as 3.5 million years, the foot provides the first evidence that bipedal hominids were in southern Africa more than 3.0 million years ago. The bones probably belonged to an early member of Australopithecus africanus or another early hominid species.

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