Researchers unveiled 3.7 million-year-old footprints that suggest an early ancestor of modern humans had multiple “wives.”
The prints, found at a site called Laetoli in Tanzania, Africa, show at least two female individuals were with the male walking in the same direction at the same time. Like modern apes, Australopiths afarensis probably had very large average differences in body size between males and females. The male individual was likely 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed around 100 pounds.
“They were probably similar in certain respects to those of our cousins, the gorillas, with a single dominant big male accompanied by his females and their offspring,” Dr. Giorgio Manzi, a scientist at the Sapienza University of Rome who was involved in the discovery, told New Scientist.
The discovery is very physically close to another set of smaller footprints left by “Lucy,” which provided researchers with insight into how humans evolved. Australopiths afarensis lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago.
The new research changes how scientists think early humans interacted. The species may have even used stone tools to carve meat from animal carcasses.
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