Chew on This: Jaw Fossils Provide Evidence of New Hominin
It could be time to make a little room on the human family tree. Joining the “Lucy” species, or Australopithecus afarensis, is a new hominin: Australopithecus deyiremeda. Paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie uncovered new fossils from this species in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Upper and lower jaw fossils indicate that the hominin likely lived between 3.3 and 3.5 million years ago—meaning Lucy had some close-by company. The findings bolster increasing evidence of diversity in the middle Pliocene, casting further doubt on which hominin modern humans evolved from. Haile-Selassie and paleontologist Fred Spoor discuss what these findings, published in Nature this week, could mean for the history of human evolution.
Yohannes Haile-Selassie is curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Fred Spoor is a paleontologist at University College London in London, England.
Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.