Human evolution; a new hominin find this year (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, December 13, 2019, 23:54 (114 days ago) @ David Turell

A growth in the understanding of the Australopithecus family:

"One really exciting fossil find from this year was not a new species, but a new body part of a previously known species: Australopithecus anamensis. First named in 1995, this species was known only from teeth, jaws and some postcranial bones from the sites of Allia Bay and Kanapoi in northern Kenya that dated to between about 4.2 and 3.9 million years ago. But in September, a team led by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Yohannes Hailie-Selassie made a stunning announcement. They had found a nearly complete 3.8 million year old Australopithecus anamensis skull at the site of Woronso-Mille in Ethiopia. This extremely well-preserved skull meant that researchers could finally characterize the face of the earliest known species of Australopithecus. Furthermore, the age of the MRD cranium indicates that A. anamensis overlapped in time with A. afarensis, the species that the well-known fossil partial skeleton “Lucy” belongs to. Why is that important? Until this year, most researchers had thought that A. anamensis gradually evolved into A. afarensis, with no overlap in time. While Hailie-Selassie’s research team say this could still be the case, they think instead it’s more likely to have occurred through a speciation event, in which a small group of genetically isolated A. anamensis, rather than the entire species A. anamensis, evolved into A. afarensis, which then lived side by side for at least 100,000 years."

Comment: So many hominins their existences overlap. I wish we knew ow the 'speciation event' occurred.

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