‘Lucy’ had strong climbing arms: Research

‘Lucy’ had strong climbing arms: researchers discover

A new study has suggested that “Lucy,” a more than 3 million year old human relative at the evolutionary cusp between humans and primates, would climb trees regularly and she spent a lot of time in treetops.

Lucy was able to walk upright on two legs, like moderns humans. But, scientists were previously unable determine whether she climbed trees regularly like nonhuman primates or not.

To solve the mystery, a team of researchers from University of Texas and the Johns Hopkins University, conducted CT scans of Lucy’s fossilized bones and concluded that she was a regular climber.

They reached that conclusion after learning that Lucy’s upper arms had been thicker as well as stronger than her thigh bones, indicating that she used to climb trees like nonhuman primates.

Christopher Ruff, a paleoanatomist at Baltimore-based JHU School of Medicine, said, “We don’t think that Lucy was playing tennis, so if she had strong upper limb bones, there's really just one explanation for it: She was probably using them to pull herself up. And it turns out she did.”

The study, reported in the journal PLOS ONE, has put a sturdy nail in the coffin of the notion that our early Australopithecus ancestors wouldn’t climb trees as part of their usual behavior.