Jawbones, teeth indicate a new member of prehuman family tree
Here come the neighbors, Lucy. Scientists have discovered 3.5-million- to 3.3-million-year-old fossils possibly from a new species in the human evolutionary family. The species lived in what’s now Ethiopia, near hominids best known for Lucy’s partial skeleton.
A partial upper jaw and two lower jaws, one recovered in two pieces, belonged to Australopithecus deyiremeda, says a team led by paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. These finds support the view that two or more hominid species coexisted in East Africa before the dawn of the Homo genus, the researchers report in the May 28 Nature.
“The $64 million question is, what environmental and ecological factors triggered hominid species diversity between around 4 million and 3 million years ago,” Haile-Selassie says.