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To do this successfully, they said, required extreme dorsiflexion, or bending the foot upward toward the shin to a degree not normally possible among most modern humans."We hypothesized that a soft-tissue mechanism might enable such extreme dorsiflexion," wrote the authors in their study report.Along with being among the earliest possible bipedal primates, it has also been thought to be closely related to the genus Homo (which includes the modern human species Homo sapiens), either as a direct ancestor or indirectly through an unknown earlier ancestor.A chopping tool from Olduvai Gorge, 1 - 2 million years old.(Credit: © timur1970 / Fotolia) (Africa) 14 December 2012 New research by a University of Alberta archeologist may lead to a rethinking of how, when and from where our ancestors left Africa.Researchers involved in a new study led by Oxford University have found that between three million and 3.5 million years ago, the diet of our very early ancestors in central Africa is likely to have consisted mainly of tropical grasses and sedges.GFDL CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons A handaxe from Olduvai Gorge, over 1 million years old.This stone tool is most often associated with Homo erectus, a hominin considered by many scientists to be a possible human (Homo) ancestor.

Four key previously excavated sites will be investigated through full-scale excavation.

Olduvai Gorge, perhaps the most famous site for evidence of early humans, is again the subject of intense research on a decades-old question bearing on human origins: How, when and where did early humans evolve from using the first and simplest stone tool industry, that of Oldowan, to the second-oldest, and more sophisticated, stone tool technology known as the Acheulean? and Mary Leakey, advances in archaeological investigative methods and the application of multidisciplinary approaches have made it possible to take another, more detailed and comprehensive look at both the old and the new among the world-famous exposed beds, the geological earthen layers or deposits that have historically produced some of the great ground-breaking discoveries related to early human evolution.

While Olduvai has been picked over before, most notably by the pioneering scientists L. Now, under the organizational umbrella of the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project, an international team of scientists composed of a consortium of researchers and institutions is focusing on reconstructing the picture of the early human transition from the simple "chopper" stone tool technology of the Oldowan industry (see image below), the world's first technology discovered at Olduvai, to the Acheulean, the more sophisticated technology represented most by the well-known bifacial "handaxe" (see image below), some of the first examples of which were found at Saint- Acheul in France, and later at Olduvai.

More specifically, the team's objectives are including the following activities: - Conducting test pits (very limited, targeted excavations) at selective Bed II sites that have been determined to contain possible evidence related to the emergence of Acheulean tools at Olduvai; - Applying the new landscape sampling approach across Middle and Upper Bed II deposits and conducting random test pits in the various paleo-ecological settings; - Applying advanced dating methodologies to Bed II volcanic ashes to produce higher-resolution, more accurate dates for Bed II locations; - Measuring stratigraphic sections at and between key archaeological sites to determine their relative order and paleoecological contexts; - Determining the correlation of volcanic ash layers between sites to test previous proposed correlations and then establishing the basin-wide stratigraphic framework for Bed II; and finally, - Reconstructing the paleo-environments at Olduvai during the 1.7-1.3 Ma time period.

New research suggests that between three million and 3.5 million years ago, the diet of our very early ancestors in central Africa is likely to have consisted mainly of tropical grasses and sedges.

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