Human evolution; very early relative from 3.8 myo (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, August 29, 2019, 00:25 (53 days ago) @ David Turell

A recognized early ape-like creature with some later attributes of hominin features:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/palaeontology/ape-like-face-of-early-human-ancestor-revealed...

"The ape-like face of one of our earliest known human ancestors has been revealed for the first time, thanks to the discovery of a nearly complete skull in Ethiopia.

"The cranium – the skull minus its lower jaw – belongs to Australopithecus anamensis, and its owner lived in the Afar basin in Ethiopia around 3.8 million years ago.

"Australopiths are thought to be the direct ancestors of the early members of our own genus, Homo, which arose with Homo habilis roughly 2.4 million years ago.

"Several Australopith species have been identified. The best-known of these is Australopithecus afarensis, the species that counts Lucy as its famous flag-bearer.

"A. anamensis is the oldest member of the Australopiths, yet it is far less well known, in part because of its lacklustre fossil record, consisting of a smattering of limb bones, jaw bones and disembodied teeth.

***

"Its teeth and upper jaw clearly mark it as a member of A. anamensis, and an accompanying paper date the sediments around the remains as 3.8 million years old, similar in age to other A. anamensis finds.

***

"The cranium was found in two parts, with the upper jaw cleaved off from the rest of the head. These two pieces fit together perfectly, says Haile-Selassie, and other smaller pieces, including the orbit of one eye, were found near-by.

"Together, the fossils give a clear picture of what the face of A. anamensis looked like, and how it fits into the human family tree.

***

"Many of the features of A. anamensis are ape-like. It had a pronounced snout and its brain would have been similar in size to that of a chimpanzee.

"But other features are reminiscent of hominin species that lived much later.

"For example, its cheek bones were forward-facing, foreshadowing the flatter faces that developed in Homo habilis and later, in our own species.

***

"In the popular imagination, human evolution proceeds through a series of species, each one being a more evolved version of the last.

“'Most of the time, that’s not really the case,” says Spoor.

"Species often represent separate branches on a tree, with the direct ancestors – the branchpoints – leaving no trace. “You hardly ever find the real ancestor of something else,” says Spoor.

"But for a long time, A. anamensis was believed to be one of those rare cases of being a direct ancestor to A. afarensis – Lucy.

"This new find challenges that text-book perfect example. For a start, the two species overlapped for a period of at least 100,000 years.

“'What's great about the paper is that it challenges this theory about linear evolution between the two species,” says Spoor.

"However, Haile-Selassie says the discovery doesn’t rule this out. One population of A. anamensis could have given rise to A. afarensis, while others diverged in a different direction. Without more fossils, it’s hard to know for sure. "

Comment: It looks like we came from a bush of pre-hominins and hominins. To me it looks as if God was willing to take lots of time to finally evolve humans, just as these findings show.


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