New fossils discovered in Kenya suggest extict human species
Archaeologists announced Wednesday that they have uncovered evidence that fossils excavated between 2007 and 2009 by the Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP) belong to two sub- genus of Homo who lived alongside human species Homo erectus two million years ago.
According to Nature, an international weekly journal of science, the fossils are composed of a face, a remarkably complete lower jaw, and part of a second lower jaw.
“Since its discovery in 1972, the cranium KNM-ER 1470 has been at the centre of the debate over the number of species of early Homo present in the early Pleistocene epoch of eastern Africa. KNM-ER 1470 stands out among other specimens attributed to early Homo because of its larger size, and its flat and subnasally orthognathic face with anteriorly placed maxillary zygomatic roots,” read a statement by Nature.
It goes on to add: “The nearly complete mandible KNM-ER 60000 and mandibular fragment KNM-ER 62003 have a dental arcade that is short anteroposteriorly and flat across the front, with small incisors; these features are consistent with the arcade morphology of KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 62000. The new fossils confirm the presence of two contemporary species of early Homo, in addition to Homo erectus, in the early Pleistocene of eastern Africa.”
The fossil KNM-ER 1470 was a skull that distinguished itself by the large brain capacity it offered and a characteristic long flat face. Its discovery ignited the debate of the possibility of different species of the genus Homo that lived alongside modern man’s initial predecessor Homo erectus.
The new discoveries have thus cemented the theory into fact 40 years since the debate was first ignited by archaeologists. The major reason that laid the topic to rest was the fact that inconclusive evidence occasioned by the lack of any teeth or lower jaw on the 1470 was finally reconstructed to completeness by the discovery of the three new fossils which were archaeologically related to it.
According to Nature, researchers Meave and Louise Leakey discovered the three new species to the east of Lake Turkana and determined that they were dated between 1.78 million and 1.95 million years old.
According to UCL Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, the National Geographic Society funded the fieldwork, the Leakey Foundation funded geological studies, and the Max Planck Society supported laboratory work.
Kenya is held by scientists as the “cradle of mankind.”