The bipedal features of other A. afarensis fossils are mostly found in this fossil, confirming that afarensis was bipedal. However, there is vigorous debate as to whether bipedalism was its primary method of locomotion, or whether it was combined with a significant amount of tree-climbing (arborealism). The features of Selam's upper body tend to be apelike: the shoulder blade closely resembles that of a gorilla, the finger bones are curved as in chimpanzees, and the semicircular canals are more like those of chimps than humans. All these lines of evidence suggest that A. afarensis was partly arboreal.
The name 'Selam' means 'peace' in the local Ethiopian language. Because it belongs to the same species as Lucy, the fossil has also been nicknamed 'Lucy's child', though it is actually about 100,000 years older than Lucy.
Alemseged Z., Spoor F., Kimbel W.H., Bobe R., Geraards D., Reed D. et al. (2006): A juvenile early hominin skeleton from Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 443:296-301.
Wood, B. (2006): Palaeoanthropology: a precious little bundle. Nature, 443:296-301. (the Dikika skeleton)
This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.
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