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3.8 million-year-old hominin skull unearthed

By T.K. Randall
August 29, 2019 · Comment icon 7 comments

Is this the skull of our direct ancestor ? Image Credit: YouTube / The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
The remarkable discovery has reignited the debate over which hominim species gave rise to modern humans.
The well-preserved skull, which dates back 3.8 million years, was unearthed by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and his team in Ethiopia.

It is the best example to date of Australopithecus anamensis - the oldest known australopithecine.

Previous studies had suggested that Australopithecus anamensis was the direct ancestor of a more advanced species known as Australopithecus afarensis which in turn gave rise to the Homo genus.
This latest discovery however has cast this idea in to doubt on the basis that anamensis and afarensis are now thought to have co-existed for at least 100,000 years.

This makes it difficult to know which of them ultimately gave rise to modern humans.

"For a long time, afarensis was considered the best candidate as an ancestor to our kind, but we are not in that position any more," said Prof Haile-Selassie.

"Now we can look back at all the species that might have existed at the time and examine which one may have been most like the first human."

Source: | Comments (7)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nnicolette 3 years ago
If you cant tell which is the ancestor then im guessing this is just a random guess? Ill put my money on both. We are hybrids.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Piney 3 years ago
There was a lot of crossing and back breeding between different species of hominid in Africa.....I just can't find the damn paper. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Golden Duck 3 years ago
I liked this part of a story I heard yesterday morning.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Tom1200 3 years ago
If you can't find your papers you might be deported, back to where your ancestors came from.  Croydon, south-east London.  It's officially the centre of the universe and where intelligent life first appeared.  I'll have a pint waiting for you at The Jolly Leper. And anyway - speak for yourself.  There is very little cross-dressing in my ancestry, and certainly no breeding.
Comment icon #5 Posted by AlphaGeek 3 years ago
Looks much like any other ape/monkey skull to me.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
I suspect these debates will never end. Not that they are bad for the scientific community but because they don't solve the problem. I really don't think with the limited evidence available that this should even be an issue. I think that egos get involved which only take away from the issue.  At this point I doubt we will ever know which was our ancestor, because as soon as we think we have solved the issue the next discover will change everything again.
Comment icon #7 Posted by C L Palmer 3 years ago
I think we assume quite a bit from what we find. Assuming the theory of evolution is sound, the odds against us finding a direct human ancestor species are minimal in the fossil record. If evolution is indeed completely random, there should be infinite evolutionary trails leading away from the current human species, cousins perhaps but not direct ancestors. Even then, we are making assumptions based on a perceived resemblance, which is my problem with assigning genus and species names to fossils in general. So much of taxonomy is ultimately guesswork, and fossil taxonomy is even worse--especia... [More]

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