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COLUMBIA — A University of Missouri-Columbia professor is part of a group of international researchers who have discovered a 1.4 million-year-old human hand bone.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the bone is believed to be the earliest evidence of the modern hand.

Pathology and anatomical sciences professor Carol Ward says the significance of the discovery is that researchers now know the modern human hand appeared very early in human evolution. The recently discovered bone is the third metacarpal in the hand, which connects to the middle finger.

The bone was found near Lake Turkana in Kenya and will stay at the National Museum of Kenya. A study written about the discovery of the bone was published this month in the National Academy of Science.

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