Homo Who-Now?: New Contender in the Early Rise of Humanity…
The recently reported discovery in Nature of three new fossils in Northern Kenya brings with it a clear confirmation that there was (at least) not one but two distinct species of the genus Homo- alive and kicking around the same time as our own direct human ancestral species, Homo erectus. They were uncovered east of Lake Turkana between 2007 and 2009 by the Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP), led by Meave and Louise Leakey (both of Stony Brook University and the Turkana Basin Institute). The fossils, thought to be of individuals aged between 11 and 13 years old, have been dated at 1.78 to 1.95 million years old.
Known as Homo rudolfensis, this species now joins the earlier, more primitive Homo habilis in the growing body of evidence that challenges the view that our species evolved from monkeys in a smooth linear progression.
According to Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London, fossil evidence is increasingly suggesting that human evolution followed the same pattern to that of other groups of animals. “Humans seem to have been evolving in different ways in different regions. It was almost as if nature was developing different human prototypes with different attributes, only one of which, an ancestor of our species, was ultimately successful in evolutionary terms,” he said. Dr. Leaky agrees, adding “Evolution really does work. It leads to amazing adaptions and amazing species and we are one of them.”
- Read more from the Turkana Basin Institute Website here