The fossil consists of the lower jaw and several teeth and it’s approximately 2.8 million years old.
The researchers believe the discovery could be an important piece of the puzzle that is human evolution.
Brian Villmoare, paleoanthropologist at the University of Nevada, said that no one can really claim to have found the first of the oldest of anything, but he is pretty sure that his team of researchers may have found the earliest specimen that belongs to the human genus, which is called Homo.
Villmoare’s team found a lower jaw that still has five teeth in it. The fossil was discovered in an Ethiopian region known as Afar.
Villmoare recounts that he was working on the other side of the hill when someone called out his name to come quickly. He saw the partial left mandible lying in the dirt and knew this was going to be an important discovery.
The fossil was analyzed using different methods and it turned out the jaw is approximately 2.8 million years old, which means almost 400,000 years older than previously found records of oldest human fossil.
According to the experts, the fossil is extremely important because it could fill in a gap in the evolution of our species.
The scientists believe that the Home genus appeared in Africa approximately 2 million years ago and evolved from Australopithecus.
But there was no evidence of that transition, which puzzled the scientists. Until now. The experts believe the newly found jaw could be the evidence of the first Homo species that evolved from Lucy.
Although the jaw shares some features with that of the Australopithecus, it has differences too. The researchers say that the jaw looks more like a human jaw than an ape one.
The experts believe that the mouth changed as humans evolved from primates. They say that the jaws became smaller and more slender because the human ancestors began using stone tools to process their food.
Some believe that these first human species could have been the inventors of the earliest stone tools.
Image Source: bbc