Well-Preserved Find 1.8 Million Years Old Drastically Simplifies Evolutionary Picture
"A newly discovered 1.8 million-year-old skull offers evidence that humanity’s early ancestors emerged from Africa as a single adventurous species, not several species as believed, drastically simplifying human evolution, an international research team said Thursday.
The skull—the most complete of its kind ever discovered—is “a really extraordinary find,” said paleoanthropologist Marcia Ponce de Leon at the University of Zurich’s Anthropological Institute and Museum, who helped analyze it. “It is in a perfectly preserved state.”
Unearthed at Dmanisi in Georgia—an ancient route in the Caucasus for the first human migrations out of Africa—the skull was found at a spot where partial fossils of four other similar individuals and a scattering of crude stone tools had been found several years ago. They all date from a time when the area was a humid forest where saber-tooth tigers and giant cheetahs prowled. Preserved in siltstone beneath the hilltop ruins of a medieval fortress, the remains are the earliest known human fossils outside Africa, experts said.
David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, who led the team, reported the discovery in Science. The primitive skull was first uncovered on Aug. 5, 2005—his birthday. “It was a very nice present,” he said.
Taken together, the finds at Dmanisi are especially important because experts in evolution could analyze the physical differences between individuals living in the same place at the same time almost 2 million years ago, when humankind first emerged from Africa to people the world, according to Yale University anthropologist Andrew Hill.
"It gives you a chance to look at variation for the first time," said Dr. Hill, who was not involved in the discovery" (read more).
***Hmm. I need to read the study ASAP.
(Source: Wall Street Journal)