Bruce Bower reports on some anatomical research from the meetings: "For ancient hominids, thumbs up on precision grip."
Orrorin’s humanlike thumb calls into question a long-standing assumption that 1.8-million-year-old hand fossils from Homo habilis, unearthed in Africa more than 40 years ago, represent the earliest transition to a precision grip, he added.
Almécija’s group compared the Orrorin thumb bone to corresponding fossils from later Australopithecus and Homo species, as well as to ancient apes. Many extinct apes possessed short hands with long thumbs suitable for tightly grasping objects or tree limbs, Almécija said. That arrangement served as the foundation for the evolution of early hominid hands, he hypothesized.
I will be interested to see them publish the comparison with Miocene apes. Is this is another example running against the idea that Ardipithecus is like the chuman ancestor?