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Top Story

Why your ancestors would have aced the long jump

A 52-million-year-old ankle fossil suggests our prehuman ancestors were high-flying acrobats. Paleontologists working in a quarry in southeastern France uncovered the quarter-inch-long bone, the lower part of an ankle joint. The fossil matched up best with a chipmunk-sized creature called Donrussellia provincialis. Previously only known from jaws and teeth, Donrussellia is thought to be one of the earliest members of the primate family tree, on the branch leading to lemurs, lorises and bush babies. These first primates spent most of their time in the trees rather than on the ground, but just how nimble they were as they moved around in the treetops has been a topic of dispute. This fossil study, however, suggests the first primates were masters at leaping through the trees.

Visit Website | Image credit: Douglas Boyer/Duke University