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Fossils suggest another hominid species lived near Lucy

Jawbones, teeth indicate a new member of prehuman family tree

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1:00pm, May 27, 2015
upper jaw with teeth

LUCY’S RELATIVE  Fossils discovered in Ethiopia, including this partial upper jaw with teeth, come from a hominid species that lived alongside Lucy’s species between 3.5 million and 3.3 million years ago, researchers say. 

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.

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