Newly Discovered Hominin Species Lived Alongside Lucy's Species

Posted on May 28, 2015

Fossil of left lower jaw of Australopithecus deyiremeda

Scientists say a newly discovered hominin species lived alongside Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, over 3.3 million years ago. The new species, Australopithecus deyiremeda, was identified from upper and lower jaw bone fossils found in the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia.

The image above shows the left half of the lower jaw fossil of Australopithecus deyiremeda that was among the jaw bones found. Scientists say Australopithecus deyiremeda and another hominin, Kenyanthropus platyops, lived around the same time period as Lucy's species. The name "deyiremeda" means "close relative in the language of the Afar people. The scientists say the newly discovered hominin differed from Lucy's species in terms of the shape and size of its thick-enameled teeth and the robust architecture of its lower jaws.

The team of scientists was led by Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He says in a statement, "The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy's species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia during the middle Pliocene. Current fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille study area clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity."

Haile-Selassie also says, "This new species from Ethiopia takes the ongoing debate on early hominin diversity to another level. Some of our colleagues are going to be skeptical about this new species, which is not unusual. However, I think it is time that we look into the earlier phases of our evolution with an open mind and carefully examine the currently available fossil evidence rather than immediately dismissing the fossils that do not fit our long-held hypotheses."

The following video shows where the fossilized bones were found in Ethiopa. Dr. Haile-Selassie also talks about the amazing find.



A research paper on the new hominin species can be found here in the journal, Nature.

Photo: Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie/The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
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