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Update: 1.8M-year-old skull gives glimpse of our evolution, suggests early man was single species

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Posted October 18, 2013
The discovery of a 1.8-million-year-old skull of a human ancestor buried under a medieval Georgian village provides a vivid picture of early evolution and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than some believe, scientists say.

 
1.8M-year-old skull gives glimpse of our evolution
In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2013, in Tbilisi, Georgia, David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgia National Museum, holds a pre-human skull found in 2005 in the ground at the medieval village Dmanisi, Georgia. The discovery of a 1.8 million-year-old human ancestor, the most complete ancient hominid skull found to date, captures early human evolution on the move in a vivid snapshot and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than originally thought, scientists say. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
 

The fossil is the most complete pre-human skull uncovered. With other partial remains previously found at the rural site, it gives researchers the earliest evidence of human ancestors moving out of Africa and spreading north to the rest of the world, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

The skull and other remains offer a glimpse of a population of pre-humans of various sizes living at the same time—something that scientists had not seen before for such an ancient era. This diversity bolsters one of two competing theories about the way our early ancestors evolved, spreading out more like a tree than a bush.

Nearly all of the previous pre-human discoveries have been fragmented bones, scattered over time and locations—like a smattering of random tweets of our evolutionary history. The findings at Dmanisi are more complete, weaving more of a short story. Before the site was found, the movement from Africa was put at about 1 million years ago.

Read more at: Phys.org

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