This jawbone pushes back the evolutionary origins of our genus by nearly half a million years, researchers reported today.
It's a discovery that could change our understanding of early humans. An incredibly well-preserved, 1.8-million-year-old skull from Dmanisi, Georgia suggests the evolutionary tree of the genus Homo may have fewer branches than previously believed.
Homo erectus was not alone in ancient Africa. Newly discovered fossil evidence, detailed in the latest issue of Nature, strongly suggests that no fewer than three distinct species of early humans from the genus Homo co-existed on the continent between 1.7 and 2 million years ago.
This skull belonged to Australopithecus sediba, a new hominin species recently discovered in South Africa. The two million year old fossils are some of the most complete ever discovered, and they could rewrite our evolutionary family tree.
We know that as ancient humans expanded into Eurasia, they began interbreeding with our Neanderthal cousins. But it now appears that the fun didn't start there - our ancestors also reproduced with precursors like Homo erectus and Homo habilis.
Eight recently discovered teeth are very similar to those of modern humans and date back 400,000 years... 200,000 years older than our species is supposed to be. To explain this mystery, we must retrace human evolution.