(CNN)Around 3.67 million years ago, an ancient human ancestor nicknamed Little Foot fell about 30 feet down into a deep shaft of a cave. Today, she represents the most complete Australopithecus (pronounced aa-struh-luh-pi-thuh-kuhs) skeleton and is helping researchers to learn more about our chimpanzee-like ancestors. Little Foot likely stood over just four feet tall. She would have slept in trees to remain safe from giant predators like sabre-toothed cats. And she was likely a vegetarian who munched on plants. Little Foot had powerful hands and a special big toe that allowed for better climbing. This week, researchers studying her skeleton learned something new. They shared that Little Foot was capable of different head movements than modern humans. This was likely due to the fact that Little Foot spent so much time in trees and was an expert climber. Humans have lost those special abilities and don’t need their heads to move as far back or forward. That discovery is thanks to the fact that Little Foot retained her atlas, or the topmost cervical vertebrae between the head and neck. In addition to understanding more about head movements, the atlas can also share information about blood flow to the brain through… Read full this story
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