Year in review: Early human kin could shake up family tree | Science News

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Year in review: Early human kin could shake up family tree

Origins of the genus remain fuzzy

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7:03am, December 15, 2015
stone tool

TOOL TIME  One of several significant hominid discoveries in 2015, this 3.3-million-year-old fashioned stone from Kenya suggests early hominids used tools before the Homo genus evolved.

Scientists trying to untangle the human evolutionary family’s ancient secrets welcomed a new set of tantalizing and controversial finds this year. A series of fossil discoveries offered potentially important insights into the origins of the human genus, Homo. Most notably, a group of South African fossils triggered widespread excitement accompanied by head-scratching and vigorous debate.

If the discoverers of the South African fossils are right about what they have found, then at least some early members of the Homo genus possessed an unexpected patchwork of humanlike and apelike features, with legs and feet built for upright walking but shoulders, chests and hips suited to climbing trees. These ancient hominids had brains

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