In a discovery that upends the study of human origins, scientists have unearthed remains of what they say is the earliest known member of the human evolutionary family. Investigators led by anthropologist Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France estimate that the creature, officially dubbed Sahelanthropus tchadensis, lived between 7 million and 6 million years ago.
The researchers call their find Touma, which means "hope of life" in the language of an African group that resides near the fossil site.
The nearly complete skull, two lower-jaw fragments, and three isolated teeth attributed to this previously unknown hominid hold a pair of major surprises.
First, a small