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The arid badlands of ethiopia's remote afar region have long been a favorite hunting ground for paleoanthropologists.Many hominins—the group that includes all the creatures in the human line since it branched away from that of the chimps—once called it home.The area is perhaps best known for having yielded “Lucy,” the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton of a human ancestor known as Australopithecus afarensis. afarensis specimen from a site called Dikika, just four kilometers from where Lucy turned up.But unlike Lucy, who was well into adulthood by the time she died, the recently discovered fossil is that of an infant, one who lived 3.3 million years ago (and yet has nonetheless been dubbed “Lucy's baby”).No other hominin skeleton of such antiquity—including Lucy—is as complete as this one.Moreover, as the earliest juvenile hominin ever found, the Dikika child provides an unprecedented opportunity to study growth processes in our ancient relatives.
"Visually speaking, the Dikika child is definitely more complete [than Lucy]," team member Fred Spoor of University College London (UCL) said.(Related: "Fossil Find Is Missing Link in Human Evolution, Scientists Say" [April 2006].) Some experts have taken to calling the baby skeleton "Lucy's baby" because of the proximity of the discoveries, despite the fact that the baby is tens of thousands of years older. afarensis and more information about Lucy.) "This is something you find once in a lifetime," said Zeresenay Alemseged of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led the team that made the discovery.(See a video discussing how the new child skeleton was found.) A Complete Find The child was probably female and about three years old when she died, according to the researchers.As part of Ethiopia's Millennium celebration a commemorative gold coin was minted and given to visiting government officials during the celebration year.Following is an abstract of the original article describing the baby "Salem", which was authored by Zeresenay Alemseged, Fred Spoor, William H.
"Lucy's Baby" has officially been named "Selam" (meaning "peace").