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Bismark
Thursday, December 15th, 2005, 01:26 PM
Early humans squatted - toe bones indicate


New York : Humans 100,000 years ago frequently squatted and were probably engaged in some kind of agricultural work, a team of anthropologists says after analysing three toe bones found in a South African cave.

The bones, found at a site called Klasies River, suggests that Middle Stone Age humans along with a possible human ape ancestor, were engaged in agriculture at this relatively early phase in human history, according to Discovery News website.

The researchers examined bones that belonged to the big toe, second toe, and pinky toe (fifth toe) of two to three individuals who lived in South Africa 100,000 years ago.

"If this activity (squatting) is done for long periods of time with some regularity, the (bone) surfaces that make contact become remodelled into what are called 'squatting facets,' which are huge on our Klasies metatarsals (foot bones)," said Jeffrey Schwartz, one of the scientists.

Schwartz, an anthropology, history and philosophy of science professor at the University of Pittsburgh, added: "Squatting is often associated with agricultural activities, such as planting, weeding, etc." The findings are to be published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Schwartz explained that when someone squats, "various joints are 'squeezed' together in an extreme that brings bone surfaces into contact with each other that otherwise would not", such as the bones that link the lower legs to the feet and toes.

They compared the bones to those of other early humans, along with data on members of existing South African populations, such as the Zulu. The big toe and second toe bones fit within the range of modern humans, although the second toe bone was on the high end of the scale because it is very large.

The scientists believe the individual who possessed this second toe bone, if male, "would have been around 5'10". In the unlikely case that it belonged to a female, "she would have been 5'9".

The pinky bone, however, stood out as "morphologically unusual in all comparisons". Its curved broad shaft and shape indicate to the researchers that, while it most certainly belonged to the Homo genus, this individual was not necessarily a modern human.

Schwartz said it could represent "something else entirely that went extinct without issue".

G. Philip Rightmire, lead author of the paper and an anthropologist at Binghamton University, said: "In my view, the Klasies people are almost modern, and one hypothesis is that the South African population was evolving toward recent humans.

"However, it is also quite possible that the Klasies group eventually died out, without contributing to the ancestry of any living Homo sapiens."

While the identity of the Klasies residents remains in question, the scientists agree that the individuals were all surprisingly large for the time and that they frequently adopted a squatting posture.

Frederick Grine, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and a professor of anthropology and anatomical sciences, said he believes the size and shape differences observed in the toe bones indicate the bones belonged to at least one male and one female Homo sapiens, and not to any other hominid species.


Source (http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=66538)

cosmocreator
Thursday, December 15th, 2005, 03:25 PM
Mongoloids still squat like monkeys.