Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Researchers found ancestral fossils in Ethiopia

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Researchers have found fossil remains of early human ancestors in Ethiopia that date to a little known period in human evolution.

The cache included several complete jaws and one partial skeleton, and was unearthed at Woranso-Mille in the country's Afar desert.

The remains were recovered 30km from the site where "Lucy" - one of the most famous human ancestors - was found.

The specimens have been dated to between 3.5 and 3.8 million years ago.

The research team is led from Cleveland University in the US. They have found these new areas rich in fossils including teeth and fragments of jawbones belonging to ancient, humanlike creatures - often referred to as hominids.

The fossils come from the right time period to shed light on the relationship between the "Lucy" species, Australopithecus afarensis, and an even older species called Australopithecus anamensis.

Dr Yohannes Haile-Selassie said the new dig sites yielded the bones of many monkeys, antelopes and wild pigs, suggesting that the hominids lived in a far greener and more wooded countryside than the bare stony Afar desert region seen today. Link

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