Friday, November 14, 2008

Fossil Sheds Light On the Evolution of Women

This 1.2-million-year-old female pelvic bone suggests that Homo erectus gave birth to big-brained babies (Image: Scott Simpson)

Homo erectus - an early ancestor of modern humans - resembled a squat body builder more than a svelte distance runner, a newly unearthed fossil pelvis suggests.

The roughly 1.2 million-year-old female pelvic bone - nicknamed the Busidima pelvis after a river near the discovery site in Northern Ethiopia - points to a shorter, stockier species than thought. Its capacious birth canal shows signs of evolutionary accommodation for a bulging brain.

The most noticeable feature of the Busidima pelvis is its wide birth canal, says Scott Simpson, a palaeoanthropologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, who was part of a team that uncovered the nearly complete bone.

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