Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




ABOUT US
New Kenyan fossils shed light on early human evolution
by Staff Writers
Nairobi, Kenya (SPX) Aug 15, 2012


Meave Leakey (left) with Cyprian Nyete (right) and other members of the field crew reconstructing pieces of specimen KNM-ER 60000 at the field camp in 2009. Credit: Photo by Louise Leakey.

Exciting new fossils discovered east of Lake Turkana confirm that there were two additional species of our genus - Homo - living alongside our direct human ancestral species, Homo erectus, almost two million years ago. The finds, announced in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, include a face, a remarkably complete lower jaw, and part of a second lower jaw. They were uncovered between 2007 and 2009 by the Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP), led by Meave and Louise Leakey.

KFRP's fieldwork was facilitated by the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), and supported by the National Geographic Society, which has funded the KFRP since 1968.

Four decades ago, the KFRP discovered the enigmatic fossil known as KNM-ER 1470 (or "1470" for short). This skull, readily distinguished by its large brain size and long flat face, ignited a longstanding debate about just how many different species of early Homo lived alongside Homo erectus during the Pleistocene epoch.

1470's unusual morphology was attributed by some scientists to sexual differences and natural degrees of variation within a single species, whereas others interpreted the fossil as evidence of a separate species.

This decades-old dilemma has endured for two reasons. First, comparisons with other fossils have been limited due to the fact that 1470's remains do not include its teeth or lower jaw. Second, no other fossil skull has mirrored 1470's flat and long face, leaving in doubt just how representative these characteristics are. The new fossils address both issues.

"For the past 40 years we have looked long and hard in the vast expanse of sediments around Lake Turkana for fossils that confirm the unique features of 1470's face and show us what its teeth and lower jaw would have looked like," says Meave Leakey, co-leader of the KFRP and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. "At last we have some answers."

"Combined, the three new fossils give a much clearer picture of what 1470 looked like," says Fred Spoor, leader of the scientific analyses. "As a result, it is now clear that two species of early Homo lived alongside Homo erectus. The new fossils will greatly help in unraveling how our branch of human evolution first emerged and flourished almost two million years ago."

Found within a radius of just over 10 km from 1470's location, the three new fossils are dated between 1.78 million and 1.95 million years old. The face KNM-ER 62000, discovered by field crew member Elgite Lokorimudang in 2008, is very similar to that of 1470, showing that the latter is not a single "odd one out" individual.

Moreover, the face's well-preserved upper jaw has almost all of its cheek teeth still in place, which for the first time makes it possible to infer the type of lower jaw that would have fitted 1470.

A particularly good match can be found in the other two new fossils, the lower jaw KNM-ER 60000, found by Cyprian Nyete in 2009, and part of another lower jaw, KNM-ER 62003, found by Robert Moru in 2007. KNM-ER 60000 stands out as the most complete lower jaw of an early member of the genus Homo yet discovered.

The team working on the new finds included Christopher Kiarie (TBI), who carried out the laboratory preparation of the fossils, Craig Feibel (Rutgers University), who studied the age of the fossils, and Susan Anton (New York University), Christopher Dean (UCL, University College London), Meave and Louise Leakey (TBI, Kenya; and Stony Brook University, New York) and Fred Spoor (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig and UCL), who analysed the fossils. The National Geographic Society funded the fieldwork, the Leakey Foundation funded geological studies, and the Max Planck Society supported laboratory work.

.


Related Links
National Geographic Society
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ABOUT US
Researchers develop new physical face cloning method
Zurich, Switzerland (SPX) Aug 14, 2012
Animatronics aims at creating physical robots that move and look like real humans. Many impressive characters have been created in this spirit, like those in the Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World. Until now, creating animatronic copies of real human individuals is a difficult and labor-intensive process requiring the manual work of skilled animators, material designers and mecha ... read more


ABOUT US
Iran says US quake aid was not in 'good faith'

Asia 'megacities' face infrastructure timebomb: ADB

Australia moves on offshore asylum centers

Fukushima caused mutant butterflies: scientists

ABOUT US
Nano, photonic research gets boost from new 3-D visualization technology

Samsung expands lead in smartphone market: Gartner

Samsung takes on iPad with Galaxy Note tablet

Megaupload boss plans music venture, hints at relaunch

ABOUT US
Global water sustainability flows through natural and human challenges

Oceans suffering from sea sickness, says study

How much nitrogen is fixed in the ocean?

A new global warming culprit: Dam drawdowns

ABOUT US
Melting ice opens Northwest Passage

Tropical climate in the Antarctic

Aerial photos reveal dynamic ice sheet

Russian icebreaker sets out for expedition

ABOUT US
Diversity keeps grasslands resilient to drought, climate change

Rooftop farms flourish in space-starved Hong Kong

New technology eliminates plant toxins

Researchers Demonstrate Control of Devastating Cassava Virus in Africa

ABOUT US
Flooding in central Nigeria kills at least 28 people

Iran pair rescued from quakes after three days: reports

Philippines storm brings more floods, landslides

NASA Global Hawk Pilots Face Challenges Flying Hurricane Missions

ABOUT US
Kenya keeps up search after Uganda army choppers crash

Heavy fighting near Liberian border

Eight Ugandans survive army helicopter crash; two dead

'Very little' done on Mali military action: defence minister

ABOUT US
Neolithic Man: The First Lumberjack?

New Kenyan fossils shed light on early human evolution

Early human ancestors had more variable diet

Researchers develop new physical face cloning method




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement