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A 3.8m-year-Old Skull was Discovered in Northern Ethiopia

  • 30 Aug 2019
  • 3 min read

Recently, a remarkably complete adult male skull called MRD-VP-1/1 or MRD for short., was found in Ethiopia.

  • It is being dubbed as the face of the oldest species (ever known yet) that is part of the human evolutionary tree.
  • It is the oldest-known member of the Australopithecus group.
    • Australopithecine, a pivotal group of early human ancestors, lived between 1.5 and 4 million years ago.
    • It dates back to a time when our ancestors were emerging from the trees to walk on two legs but still had distinctly ape-like protruding faces, powerful jaws and small brains.
  • MRD’s species, which was bipedal but may also have been able to move around in trees, was much smaller than modern humans.
  • This species is considered the direct ancestor of Australopithecus afarensis, the species are best known from the famous partial skeleton nicknamed Lucy unearthed in 1974.
  • The 3.2-million-year-old Lucy belonged to a species of hominins (which include humans and their ancestors) called Australopithecus afarensis, the newly investigated skull belongs to the older species Australopithecus anamensis.
  • Also after examining the skull it has been found that MRD’s species could have coexisted with Lucy’s because of a “speciation event”.
    • It is possible that a small group of MRD’s species became genetically isolated from the rest of the population and evolved into Lucy’s species, whose population eventually out-bred MRD’s species.
  • The finding also helps bridge a big gap between the earliest-known human ancestors (about 6 million years old) and species like Lucy (2-3 million years old).
  • The evolutionary lineage that led to people split from the chimpanzee lineage roughly 6 million to 7 million years ago, gradually acquiring traits such as bipedal walking, flatter face and increased brain size through a succession of species.
  • Our species, Homo sapiens, appeared roughly 300,000 years ago in Africa.

Source: IE

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