Fossil Finds in Africa Indicate Distant Cousins to Homo Erectus
by Aubrianna Willard-Lee, age 12
A new discovery suggests that about 1.8 million years ago there were several pre-human species living in Africa. The species Homo Erectus is believed to be our direct ancestor. But now it seems possible humans had two additional relatives.
Meave Leakey, a team leader for the study, found facial bones and jawbones from various creatures in Kenya. These discoveries led the researchers to believe that our earliest ancestors had other human-like companions.
Forty years ago, the Leakey family made a controversial find. They recovered a skull, which they called 1470. Because the skull was so distinct from Homo erectus, scientists have questioned for years whether or not 1470 was a mutation of Homo erectus or something new.
The facial and jawbones most recently found by the Leakeys do not match Homo erectus or 1470. The new specimens have “a really distinct profile” and thus they are “something very different,” said Meave Leakey, describing the study.
The Leakeys say these findings indicate that there were pre-human species other than Homo erectus in Africa 1.8-2 million years ago.
[Source: Associated Press]