Archeologists have found a human jawbone they believe belongs to the earliest humans. The human jawbone was found in Ethiopia and it is 2.8 million years old, which means that human history is pushed back around 400,000 years. The research was published in the journal Science.
Lead author of the research and director of Arizona State University’s Institute of Human Origins, professor William Kimbel stated that until this discovery, the oldest fossil attributed to the Homo genus was an upper jaw bone found in Ethiopia which was 2.35 million years old.
Professor Brian Villmoare from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas said that the human jawbone could be linked to a human-like primate called a hominin that used to live around 3.2 million years ago. A specimen of the hominin exists today and it is quite famous, Lucy was discovered in the same area where the 2.8 million year old human jawbone was discovered. Villmoare stated that the piece of jawbone exhibits a mixture of both primitive and advanced features, which makes it a key piece in the transition from Lucy to later humans.
The human jawbone was found in the Ledi-Geraru area and it is the left portion of the lower jawbone with five teeth attached to it. The molar teeth are smaller compared to other hominins that roamed the area and they are also key when discerning between more modern humans and their primitive counterparts.
Scientists believe that this human jawbone is a key piece of the human evolution puzzle that is going to reveal precious information about human’s origins.
Richard Potts from the Human Origins program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History believes that the human jawbone discovered in Ethiopia seems to confirm that by 2.3 million years ago, humans had a lineage branching off.
Andrew Sugden, the journal Science’s deputy editor stated that the findings were opening a massive new chapter in the story of human evolution on the African continent,
… which expands our understanding not only of human origins, but also of the environments in which our ancestors emerged.
Image Source: The Guardian