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Untangling Ancient Roots: Earliest hominid shows new, improved face

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1:48pm, April 6, 2005

Two new lines of evidence bolster the claim that the oldest known member of the human-evolutionary family lived in central Africa between 6 million and 7 million years ago.

In 2001, at a site in Chad, anthropologist Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France and his coworkers found jaw fragments, isolated teeth, and the nearly complete skull of a creature that the researchers identified as a hominid and assigned to the category Sahelanthropus tchadensis. The skull combines a cranium suitable for a chimp-size brain with facial and tooth structures resembling those of later human ancestors (SN: 7/13/02, p. 19: Evolution's Surprise: Fossil find uproots our early ancestors).

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