AL 333 ( Afar Locality 333) is the scientific term for an unusually large discovery of fossils of the species Australopithecus afarensis, which was discovered in November 1975 in Hadar ( Ethiopia). The multi-year excavations revealed remains of around 240 bones for days, which could be assigned to a total of 17 individuals: nine adults, three adolescents and five children. Your age is - like that of Lucy - dated to 3.2 million years. From the excavation director, Donald Johanson, the Fund as First Family ( " the first family " ) was called.
All the bones are from a single layer of soil whose sediments were embedded between two layers of volcanic ash and therefore could be dated reliably using the argon - argon method. Most bones had been exposed on a steep slope as a result of soil erosion, but hardly weathered; only 19 fossils were excavated to its original position. The bones do not have bite marks from predators or scavengers, but are mostly broken. It is therefore assumed that the bodies were carried away in a river and washed ashore later. Since near the Australopithecus fossils few other bones - of fish and rodents - were found, Donald Johanson, according to the probability is quite high that a group of Australopithecus afarensis perished together, perhaps a group of relatives. The special significance of the find is that the members of the group had a different age, but died at the same time. Therefore could - also due to the good conservation status of several rather complete mandible and maxilla - be drawn, among other conclusions on the development from childhood to adulthood and the size difference between male and female individuals.
The oldest fossil evidence of a foot, which is comparable to that of its function, with the foot of man, also comes from the locality AL 333: It is a completely preserved metatarsal of Australopithecus afarensis ( AL 333-160 archive - number ), the characteristics of reveal both the presence of a longitudinal arch and a transverse arch. The interpretation of this discovery was, according to the time of transition from one optimized for climbing in the branches of a prehensile as "shock absorbers " when upright running acting arch already well advanced.