In DepthPaleoanthropology

Stunning skull shakes human family tree

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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 850
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6456.850

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Summary

In a find that some are calling one of the most spectacular hominin discoveries of the decade, fossil hunters working in northeastern Ethiopia have uncovered a nearly complete, 3.8-million-year-old cranium belonging to the oldest known species of australopiths, Australopithecus anamensis. The ancient hominin, long thought to be the direct precursor to the "Lucy" species, A. afarensis, was previously known mostly from jawbones and teeth. Most researchers tend to think A. anamensis gradually transitioned into and was replaced by A. afarensis. But in a pair of studies describing and interpreting the new skull, paleoanthropologists argue there's now evidence the two australopith species actually overlapped for about 100,000 years. Other researchers caution that many more fossils will need to be found before they accept that version of hominin history.

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