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Fossil skull points to single root for human evolution

Early members of Homo line may have belonged to one intercontinental species

ANCIENT HEAD LINE  Shape and size differences among fossil skulls unearthed at a western Asian site, including the latest and most complete skull (far right), show that early members of the Homo genus evolved as a single species in Asia and Africa, scientists say.

A remarkably complete, roughly 1.8-million-year-old fossil skull with a surprising set of features adds key evidence to the controversial idea that early members of the Homo genus evolved as one species living in both western Asia and Africa, scientists say.

The new find, and the remains of four other skulls previously unearthed at a site called Dmanisi, in the nation of Georgia, belonged to Homo erectus despite some big differences in shape and size, say paleoanthropologist David Lordkipanidze of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi and his colleagues. The magnitude of skull diversity at Dmanisi indicates that African Homo fossils dating to shortly before and after 1.8 million years ago can be folded into a single, intercontinental H. erectus population, the researchers conclude in the Oct. 18 Science.

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