Ethiopia: Discovery of a new early human ancestor

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A research team discovered a new hominid species in Ethiopia. The fossil remains of this species were found at a few kilometers only away from Lucy’s skeleton, the famous Australopithecus considered as « mother of the Humanity« .

Many consider Lucy, 1.10 meter high Australopithecus discovered in 1974, as the straight ancestor of Man. But she could no more be our only early ancestor. In March 2011, researchers discovered jaws and teeth of 3.3 to 3.5 million years old meaning 100 000 years younger than Lucy. These remains were found in the Afar region situated in the East of Ethiopia. Only 35 kilometers separate these bones from the place where Australopithecus Afarensis lived, species to which Lucy belonged. For the research team that made the discovery, the morphology of these remains connects them to Australopithecus.

A neighbor named « Australopithecus Deyiremeda »
Some differences however allow the scientists to assert that bones result from a new species. The form and the size of teeth and also the jaws are stronger for Australopithecus Deyiremeda, the name given to him, meaning « close relative » in Afar language. For Yohannes Haile-Selassie at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and main author of the discovery, this parent of Lucy « is a new confirmation that Australopithecus Afarensis is not the only species potential ancestor of the man who lived in the Ethiopian region of Afar« . Thus, the former hypothesis according to which Lucy would be the « mother of the Humanity » is more and more questioned by paleontologists.

Several discoveries mainly in Chad and Kenya allowed scientists asserting that there had been several species of hominids for period from 3 to 4 million years. A theory that comes to confirm these fossils remains found in Ethiopia. The researchers already set forward that Australopithecus Afarensis and Australopithecus Deyiremeda lived in the same era 3.5 million years ago.


Original text by: RFI

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