News & AnalysisPaleoanthropology

Who Was Homo habilis—And Was It Really Homo?

Science  17 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6036, pp. 1370-1371
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6036.1370

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Summary

In the past decade, Homo habilis's status as the first member of our genus has been undermined. Newer analytical methods suggested that H. habilis matured and moved less like a human and more like an australopithecine, such as the famous partial skeleton of Lucy. Now, a report in press in the Journal of Human Evolution finds that H. habilis's dietary range was also more like Lucy's than that of H. erectus, which many consider the first fully human species to walk the earth. That suggests the handyman had yet to make the key adaptations associated with our genus, such as the ability to exploit a variety of foods in many environments, the authors say.

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