Our ancestors may have run a million years earlier than we thought

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It’s useful to be able to run

Hans Neleman/Getty Images

The ancient human species Australopithecus afarensis may have been the earliest hominin to run on two legs. Although it had relatively short, ape-like legs, A. afarensis may have had a long Achilles’ tendon just like modern humans do – a feature that helps us to run more efficiently.

Conventional thinking is that early hominins like A. afarensis – the species to which the famous Lucy fossil belonged – learned to walk long before they could run. Lucy was an ape-like bipedal hominin sometimes seen as a likely direct ancestor of the earliest species …