Scientists discovered a 2.8 million years old jawbone that gives significant details about the evolution of the human species. The mandible of spotted by University of Arizona grad student Chalachew Seyoum in a site located in the Ledi-Geraru area of the Afar Region, in Ethiopia. The Afar Region is the place of numerous discoveries, but is best known for the discovery of the skeleton called Lucy, an Australopithecus afarensis, thought to be the immediate ancestor of the Homo genus. The jaw bone, found in January 2013, was discovered just a dozen miles from the place where Lucy was, in 1974.
The jawbone, or LD 350-1, is 2.8 million years ago, which makes it the oldest fossil of the Homo genus. This reveals that first humans date back even further in time than we thought. Until now, the oldest Homo fossil was from 2.35 million years ago. Lucy, the Australopithecus afarensis was a 3.2 million years old ape, considered to be our direct ancestor. But, until now, scientists didn`t know anything about the period that passed from Lucy to the 2.35 million years old Homo fossil.
“The importance of the specimen is that it adds a data point to a period of time in our ancestry in which we have very little information”
said William H. Kimbel, the director of ASU’s Institute of Human Origins.
The jawbone is a reason for new questions and scientific investigations. Researchers are delighted to have found something to fill the mysterious gap between the skeleton Lucy and the 2.3 million years fossil, thought by now to belong to the first human being.
“It’s very much a transitional form, as would be expected at that age. The chin looks backwards in time. But the shape of the teeth looks forward.”
said Bill Kimbel, director of the Institute of Human Origins at the Arizona State University and discoverer of the earliest Homo fossil known until now, the 2.3 million years old AL 666-1 jaw, in 1994.
Researchers have already determined some facts about the being to whom the new jawbone belonged. It walked on two legs and lived in a hot, dry area. Scientists work to establish what it ate and if it used tools made of stone.
The hunt for human`s early ancestors` fossils is a challenging mission for paleoanthropologists. They say you could put the fossils in a shoe box, and still have room for a pair of shoes.
Image Source: The Independent