Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Ancient human shoulders reveal links to ape ancestors
by Brooks Hays
San Francisco (UPI) Sep 9, 2015

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

As one new study shows, the ape-like shoulders of early humans highlight the transition from trees to tools.

Humans evolved from apes. That much is certain. But zeroing in on the evolutionary link between human and monkey isn't easy.

Now, new research suggests humans and apes shared an ape-like ancestor farther back along the primate lineage. The revelations may explain some of the more primitive morphological features of humans. One of those features is the shoulder.

"Humans are unique in many ways. We have features that clearly link us with African apes, but we also have features that appear more primitive, leading to uncertainty about what our common ancestor looked like," Nathan Young, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said in a press release. "Our study suggests that the simplest explanation, that the ancestor looked a lot like a chimp or gorilla, is the right one, at least in the shoulder."

Young is the lead author of a new study analyzing the significance of shoulder shape in two specimens of the early human Australopithecus species. The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Young and his colleagues used 3-D imagery to compare the shape and function of the early Australopithecus shoulders to those of monkeys, apes and other early humans.

"Human shoulder blades are odd, separated from all the apes. Primitive in some ways, derived in other ways, and different from all of them," Young said.

The results showed that though human shoulders -- built more for labor than climbing -- appear superficially like those of more distant primate relatives, there are enough commonalities for the feature to have evolved from apes.

The findings confirmed australopiths' evolutionary position as an intermediate between African apes and humans, but the analysis also showed that humans' ape-like shoulder transitioned back toward the design employed by monkeys -- a design better suited for the use of tools.

Researchers say this backward shift was a long, slow process. But as early humans came down from the trees, their adapting shoulders enabled new movements.

"These changes in the shoulder, which were probably initially driven by the use of tools well back into human evolution, also made us great throwers," explained study co-author Neil T. Roach, a fellow of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. "Our unique throwing ability likely helped our ancestors hunt and protect themselves, turning our species into the most dominant predators on earth."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Largest-yet monument unearthed at Stonehenge
Wiltshire, England (UPI) Sep 7, 2015
Stonehenge is the gift that keeps on giving - the gifts being expansive, mysterious arrangements of massive stones. Researchers in England recently found another monument at Stonehenge, just two miles from the original stone circle. Scientists say it may be the largest collection of stones at the site, and unlike anything else in the world. The ancient monument was discovered bu ... read more

France cash pledge for persecuted Mideast minorities

Hungary Defence Minister quits amid migration crisis

China outrage after officials say blast relatives 'calm'

Japan lifts evacuation order for radiation-hit Fukushima town

Paper tubes make stiff origami structures

Long-sought chiral anomaly detected in crystalline material

Metallic gels produce tunable light emission

An engineered surface unsticks sticky water droplets

Sea temperature changes linked to mystery North Pacific ecosystem shifts

Scientists describe new clam species from depths off Canada's Atlantic coast

TES Satellite Instrument Gives New Insight into Water Cycle

Japan loos flush with success after toilet design contest

Polar bears may survive ice melt, with or without seals

Hot summer fuels dangerous glacier melting in Central Asia

NASA to Study Arctic Climate Change Ecosystem Impacts

Adapt or die: Arctic animals cope with climate change

Could more intensive farming practices benefit tropical birds?

Plants also suffer from stress

EU lawmakers want full animal cloning ban

Saving oysters by digging up their past

Hurricane Linda strengthens off Mexico's Pacific coast

Indian Kashmir shuts down on anniversary of deadly floods

Typhoon Etau barrelling toward Japanese mainland

Seven fishermen killed by Hurricane Fred: maritime officials

Horse ban in NE Nigeria after Boko Haram attacks

US dentist who killed Cecil the lion breaks silence

Algeria power struggle intensifies with arrest, sackings

Nigeria reinstates 3,000 soldiers dismissed over Boko Haram war

Did grandmas make people pair up?

New film aims to capture 'Human' experience

Largest-yet monument unearthed at Stonehenge

US Catholics mostly accepting of non-traditional families

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.