By Maina Kiarie
Australopithecus garhi lived in Eastern Africa (from fossils found at the site of Bouri, Middle Awash, Ethiopia) about 2.5 million years ago. A partial skeleton indicating a longer femur compared to other Australopithecus specimens such as afarensis (Lucy). This suggests a change toward longer strides during bipedal (upright, on two feet) walking.
The first fossil was found in 1990 and represent a time period (between 3 and 2 million years ago) where the fossil record is scant. Between 1996 and 1998, a research team led by the paleoanthropoligists Berhane Asfaw from Ethiopian and Tim White from America found the partial skull and other skeletal remains. In 1997 that team named the new species Australopithecus garhi. ‘Garhi’ means ‘surprise’ in the Afar language.
Australopithecus garhi is associated with some of the oldest known stone tools. Their fossils have been found along with animal bones that were cut and broken open with stone tools. Because of these finds, it is possible that this species was among the first to make the transition to stone tool making and to eat meat and bone marrow from large animals.