Skull, jaw fossils offer new insight into human lineage
A 1-1/2-million-year-old skull and an equally old jaw found in Kenya are helping rewrite the history of early man, eliminating one reputed ancestor from the human lineage and suggesting that another was much more primitive than previously believed, researchers said today.
The jawbone shows that Homo habilis, previously believed to be a direct ancestor of Homo erectus and thus of humans, lived side by side with H. erectus, making them sister species rather than mother and daughter.
"They coexisted at the same time and in the same place for half a million years," said anthropologist Fred Spoor of University College London, a coauthor of the paper appearing in the journal Nature. "How likely is it that one would give rise to the other?"