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IU's Carlson among team of scientists announcing new species of prehistoric man
Date:4/8/2010

d his PhD in 2002, described the discovery as "amazing" in that it not only creates newly-identified links between the australopiths and Homo, but also because it suggests that the transition between the small-bodied Au. africanus and the bipedal H. erectus occurred not only in East Africa, but across the whole of African, including South Africa.

"The fossils clearly link fossils in East Africa to South Africa," he said. "Some paleontologists tend to think that we evolved from something in East Africa, and South Africa was just a sort of dead end. This fossil shows that the same trends seen in East Africa were also seen in South Africa -- they're just regional versions of the same thing."

"The discovery is an amazing one. It's late enough that it is contemporaneous with our ancestors that were, at the time, evolving into Homo erectus. The fossils in South Africa tend to be very rugged, with heavy faces and huge molars. These aren't like that, and suggest that they're related to East African fossils that many have put in the taxon Homo habilis," Hunt said. "The intriguing thing is that they still have traits found in the more rugged species, Au. africanus, that is found half a million to a million (or more) years earlier. This suggests that just like humans all over the world have evolved but retained their regional characteristics, we had regional characteristics of Homo habilis at 2 million years ago. The teeth are distinctly smaller than Au. africanus, yet the face looks like a delicate version of Au. africanus."


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Contact: Steve Chaplin
stjchap@indiana.edu
812-856-1896
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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