- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

HARROGATE, Tenn. (AP) - An assistant anatomy professor at Lincoln-Memorial University is one of 25 junior scientists to study fossil material from what researchers say is a new species of human relative in South Africa.

“It’s spectacular,” Dr. Zach Throckmorton said of being involved with the project.

His interest is in the human foot and ankle, Throckmorton told the Citizen Tribune in Morristown (https://bit.ly/1EZDuyR). By examining the feet of the creature now named Homo naledi (nah LEH’ dee), Throckmorton said his team determined the newly discovered species was able to stand comfortably on tiptoes.

The foot was rigid and immobile, similar to human feet, and the ankle joints had a similar range of motion - stable and less flexible, which is needed to walk upright, said Throckmorton, an assistant professor in the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The heel bones look a lot like ours,” he said. “They are big and wide, which helps us become stable.”

Throckmorton was chosen last year from 300 applicants to study the bones found in a cave in South Africa.

He said he is preparing to submit a paper for publications about the features he discovered in the feet and their similarity to human feet.

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Information from: Citizen Tribune, https://www.citizentribune.com

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