Research NewsPaleoanthropology

A New Face for Human Ancestors

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Science  30 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5317, pp. 1331
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5317.1331

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On page 1392 of this issue of Science, an 800,000-year-old species from Spain--named Homo antecessor, from the Latin for one who goes first--takes its place on the human family tree. Its Spanish discoverers argue that it is a key human ancestor, one that eventually gave rise to both humans and Neandertals, although other paleoanthropologists are cautious about such a dramatic claim. More than 80 fossils and artifacts, including the partial face of a boy and primitive stone tools, offer tantalizing clues to these people's way of life and even raise the possibility of cannibalism.