The latest discovery of archaeologists has finally allowed us to look in the face of our oldest ancestor – does it look as we expected? Let’s find out!
Paleontologists, after many years of research, finally managed to find an almost complete skull of Australopithecus anamensis, a primate mammal, hominid, who lived about 4 million years ago in Africa. To date, we have learned about our ancestor from the few fossil remains found, the first of which was discovered in 1965 at Rudolf Lake in Kenya by explorer Bryan Patterson – these were originally described as A. afarensis and only 30 years later paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey did a search this discovery. Either way, until recently fragments of the jaw, jaw, teeth, humerus and lower leg bones (these suggest that Australopithecus anamensis walked upright), but the new discovery is a real revelation.
We are dealing with almost the entire skull, thanks to which it was possible to reproduce the appearance of this hominid – as a result, we get a face that confirms the earlier suppositions of researchers, i.e. Australopithecus anamensis has common features with chimpanzees (large flat nose, protruding rounded jaw, protruding eyebrow arches) and cheeks) as well as people. The discovery was made in 2016 in Ethiopia, and the age of the find dates to 3.8 million years – according to researchers, the skull belonged to an adult male Australopithecus anamensis net oasis. Interestingly, they are at the same time the youngest remains of A. anamensis that have been found so far and one of the oldest cranial remains of the Hominini tribe, because here the current record is 3.5 million years.
The new discovery allows us to fill an important gap in the history of human origin – Australopithecus anamensis is at the moment the oldest known species of the genus Australopithecus, which is considered the earliest member of the human evolutionary tree. We have long thought that A. anamensis evolved directly into another subspecies of A. afarensis (the famous skeleton of Lucy), but with a new discovery in the hands, scientists are no longer so sure. It turns out that the skull is a strange combination of primitive and advanced features.
And most interestingly and surprisingly, some features of A. anamensis are definitely more developed than those of A. afarensis, which raises the question of whether the former is certainly the direct ancestor of the latter. The revised timeline suggests that A. anamensis lived up to 3.8 million years ago, while A. afarensis arose earlier than we thought, even about 3.9 million years ago, which means that both species have overlapping 100,000 years. Does this mean that we need to rewrite our evolution story? Maybe not quite, but certainly will need to be amended.