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More monkey business? (Origin of human species)


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Winston
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« on: September 09, 2009, 05:39:08 pm »

And speaking of being older than dirt...
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A skull that rewrites the history of man
It has long been agreed that Africa was the sole cradle of human evolution. Then these bones were found in Georgia...

By Steve Connor, Science Editor, The Independent, UK
Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The conventional view of human evolution and how early man colonised the world has been thrown into doubt by a series of stunning palaeontological discoveries suggesting that Africa was not the sole cradle of humankind. Scientists have found a handful of ancient human skulls at an archaeological site two hours from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, that suggest a Eurasian chapter in the long evolutionary story of man.

The skulls, jawbones and fragments of limb bones suggest that our ancient human ancestors migrated out of Africa far earlier than previously thought and spent a long evolutionary interlude in Eurasia before moving back into Africa to complete the story of man.  Experts believe fossilised bones unearthed at the medieval village of Dmanisi in the foothills of the Caucuses, and dated to about 1.8 million years ago, are the oldest indisputable remains of humans discovered outside of Africa.

But what has really excited the researchers is the discovery that these early humans (or "hominins") are far more primitive-looking than the Homo erectus humans that were, until now, believed to be the first people to migrate out of Africa about 1 million years ago.

The Dmanisi people had brains that were about 40 per cent smaller than those of Homo erectus and they were much shorter in stature than classical H. erectus skeletons, according to Professor David Lordkipanidze, general director of the Georgia National Museum. "Before our findings, the prevailing view was that humans came out of Africa almost 1 million years ago, that they already had sophisticated stone tools, and that their body anatomy was quite advanced in terms of brain capacity and limb proportions. But what we are finding is quite different," Professor Lordkipanidze said.

"The Dmanisi hominins are the earliest representatives of our own genus Homo outside Africa, and they represent the most primitive population of the species Homo erectus to date. They might be ancestral to all later Homo erectus populations, which would suggest a Eurasian origin of Homo erectus."

More at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/a-skull-that-rewrites-the-history-of-man-1783861.html
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