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Last Updated: Monday March 07 2005 16:24 GMT

Ancient skeleton found in Africa

A scientist pointing at part of the skeleton
Scientists in Ethiopia have discovered the fossilised skeleton of one of the earliest human ancestors.

Experts say the bones of the hominid, or primitive human, could be four million years old and show the creature walked on two legs, like modern humans.

The ancient remains were found close to the site where another hominid called Lucy was discovered 31 years ago.

Experts thought Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago, was the oldest link to humans but these remains are older.

US and Ethiopian scientists unearthed the un-named species in February at a site in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

Researchers say they often find odd bones but it is unusual to discover an almost whole skeleton.

Ankle bone clue

Model of Lucy
Model of Lucy
Although experts are not sure whether the creature is male or female, they do think its ankle bones suggest it definitely walked upright.

They hope this new discovery will help them learn about the early periods of human evolution before Lucy.

The team working on the archaeological dig will return to the site where they found the bones in December, to see if they can find out more.

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