The idea that there were several different human species walking the Earth two million years ago has been dealt a blow. Instead, scientists say early human fossils found in Africa and Eurasia may have been part of the same species. Writing in the journal Science, the team says that Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus are all part of a single evolving lineage that led to modern humans. But others in the field reject this.
A team looked at the most complete hominid skull ever found, which was uncovered in Dmanisi, Georgia. It had a small braincase, large teeth and a long face, characteristics it shares with H. habilis. But many features from the braincase were also “unique” to H. erectus. The 1.8-million-year old skull comes from a site that has given up the biggest collection of well-preserved early-human remains known anywhere in the world. The Dmanisi collection also represents the earliest evidence of primitive humans outside Africa, a group that emerged soon after early Homo diverged from Australopithecus, or “Lucy”.
“We now have the best evidence for what early Homo really is,” said lead author David Lordkipanidze from the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi, Georgia. “One of the most important things is that we have such a remarkable collection; it’s very rare that you have that from one site.” The fossil remains showed a lot of variation that had previously puzzled researchers, but Prof Lordkipanidze said it was clear that these features were all from one population. Via Blow to multiple human species idea.