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Fossil Skull Diversifies Family Tree

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9:57am, March 21, 2001

Anthropologists have long held that the earliest members of the human evolutionary family consisted of a group of closely related species known as australopithecines. A 3.5-million-year-old skull unearthed in Kenya now suggests that the australopithecines had a set of evolutionary companions.

The nearly complete skull represents a new genus and species of early hominids, according to a report in the March 22 Nature. The team that excavated and analyzed the specimen, led by anthropologist Meave G. Leakey of the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, dubs it Kenyanthropus platyops.

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