Oldest Human Hand Bone Found In Africa

Posted: Aug 19 2015, 6:16am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Oldest Human Hand Bone Found in Africa
  • Prehistoric Human Hand Bone Exhumed in Tanzania

A prehistoric human hand bone has gotten exhumed at 1.84-million-year-old site at Olduvai in Tanzania.

The oldest sample of a hand bone has gotten unearthed from a site in Africa. It consisted of the little finger of a left hand. The place where it got unearthed was the famous Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The carbon dating showed it to be 1.84 million years old.

It happens to be 600,000 years older than the next historical sample. This is a humanoid hand bone unearthed in Spain. This find points towards a transition. That is between primate tree dwellers with their curved fingers and evolved hominids.

The creature to which this little finger fossil belonged no longer used the trees as a moving ground. Instead of climbing and swinging, it had started handling the environment. And that too with agility and acumen. This later on became the modern human hand which is a marvel of existence.

Also the hand came in handy in using stone tools and slicing open carcasses. The Olduvai Gorge got explored for the first time by Louis Leakey. He and his wife found evidence of Homo habilis or “handy man” among the fossils unearthed from the site.

The bones recently unearthed seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to our own finger bones. At least they appear to be just as skillful in handling their tasks. Modernity must have arrived early on for this creature. It could manipulate stone tool with adept precision.

But the question remains: what was this half-human, half-ape creature? Well, from the looks of it, it was 6 feet tall. And it was closer to us Homo sapiens than we suppose. Without the presence of more fossils, it is difficult to say. That is whether it belonged to our own line of the family tree.

Some say the hominid could actually be Homo erectus. But it goes way back into the prehistoric past as far as its ancestry's concerned. It could in fact be an earlier version of Homo erectus. The digging at the site continues unabated. And it has been extant since a long time ago.

Several other fossils have gotten unearthed from the site too. It is a virtual goldmine for anthropologists and archaeologists. The real search is for teeth. Once they're found, the real facts will come to the light of day. The exploration of the site is progressing at a rapid pace. It may yet yield rich fossil materials. They will enhance our knowledge of our prehistoric past.

The study about the discovery published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

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