These creatures lived just after the divergence from our common hominid ancestor with chimpanzees and bonobos, during the late Miocene and early Pliocene Epochs.The fossils have been tentatively classified as members of three distinct genera-- .If we count each generation as averaging 14 years, there would be about 360,000 hand-holders in the hominine line.
The earliest australopithecines very likely did not evolve until 5 million years ago or shortly thereafter (during the beginning of the Pliocene Epoch) in East Africa.The primate fossil record for this crucial transitional period leading to australopithecines is still scanty and somewhat confusing.Based on the fossil evidence, paleoarchaeologists currently tell the following story: For 99.9 percent of our history, from the time of the first living cell, the human ancestral line was the same as that of chimpanzees.Then, about 5–7 million years ago, a new line split off from the chimpanzee line, and a new group appeared in open savanna rather than in rainforest jungle.March 21, 2001 – After the partial skeleton of a 3.2-million-year-old human relative known as Lucy was found in Ethiopia in 1974, many researchers believed her species – Australopithecus afarensis – was the ancestor of modern humans.
“We’ve always assumed Lucy was our ancestor and now we need to re-evaluate that idea,” said geologist Frank Brown, dean of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences at the University of Utah. By studying the geology of volcanic ash and other sediments in Kenya’s Lake Turkana basin, Brown, Gathogo and Mc Dougall helped determine the age of the new fossils, including the 3.5-million-year-old skull.
He paces slowly, head bent, stopping every few feet, and then leans down to pick up what initially looks like a gray piece of stone.
But it soon became clear to the paleontology department of Kenya's National Museum that Mr.
Discovery of the fossils of Kenyanthropus platyops – meaning flat-faced human from Kenya – will be reported in the March 22 issue of the journal Nature by a team led by paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey of the National Museums of Kenya. “In the absence of any other fossils in the time between about 3.8 million and 3 million years ago, the only possible human ancestor that could be claimed was Australopithecus afarensis,” Brown said.
Brown and University of Utah geology undergraduate Patrick Nduru Gathogo co-authored the study, along with Fred Spoor of University College London, Ian Mc Dougall of The Australian National University in Canberra and Christopher Kiarie and Louise Leakey of the National Museums of Kenya. The field work was funded by the National Geographic Society, except the geology work by Utah researchers was financed by the L. “Now that we have a new form of early hominid from the same time period that is quite distinct from afarensis, the anthropologists will have to decide which of these forms of early human actually lies in our ancestral tree.
These bones and skulls range from 25,000 to 4.4 million years old and show many different stages of human and primate evolution.