We don’t know everything about our early ancestors—but we keep learning more! Paleoanthropologists are constantly in the field, excavating new areas with groundbreaking technology, and continually filling in some of the gaps about our understanding of human evolution.
Below are some of the still unanswered questions about Orrorin tugenensis that may be answered with future discoveries:
1. Is Orrorin a direct human ancestor to Homo sapiens? If so, does this make A. afarensis a side branch of our of hominin family tree that eventually hit a dead-end?
2. Did Orrorin routinely walk on two legs? Orrorin’s fossil evidence indicates that Orrorin was possibly capable of bipedalism, but not necessarily that Orrorin routinely walked bipedal.
3. How did bipedalism originate? One hypothesis suggests early apes walked on branches while using their arms for balance and this technique eventually made its way to the ground.
4. What is the relationship between this species and Sahelanthropus tchadensis, the other current contender for the title of earliest human?
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Human Origins Program: http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/orrorin-tugenensis
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