London: Our early human ancestors spent much of their time in trees long after they fully mastered the art of walking on two legs, according to a study.
This came to light after the remains of a three-year-old girl who died about 3.3 million years ago in East Africa were found.
The discovery appears to have ended the debate over whether this bipedal hominid still continued to climb trees, much like their earlier ape ancestors, The Independent reported Friday.
The fossilised shoulder blades and arm sockets belonging to Selam, meaning "peace", indicate that she and her family continued to climb trees like modern apes even though her lower body was perfectly adapted to upright walking.
This means that humanity's earliest ancestors abandoned an arboreal existence far later in our evolutionary history than previously thought, the newspaper said.
Selam is a remarkably well-preserved specimen of the species Australopithecus afarensis, an important forerunner of the human lineage.
Her almost-complete skull and skeleton, embedded in sandstone rock, was discovered in 2000 in Dikika region of Ethiopia.
And it has taken years of painstaking work for scientists at the California Academy of Scientists to extract the fossilised bones from the stone, the daily said.