Archaeology Facelift seals standing of oldest hominid

Discussion in 'Archaeology' started by mscbkc070904, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    The virtual reconstruction of a skull unearthed at the base of the Saharan dunes in northern Chad may dispel controversy over whether its owner was human or ape, says a team of palaeoanthropologists.

    The skull, nicknamed Toumaï, along with teeth and a lower jaw was excavated by a team led by Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers, France. The find was unveiled in 2002 and dated to about 7 million years ago (see "Oldest member of human family found"). Based on the size and shape of the teeth and skull base, Brunet's team assigned Toumaï to a new species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, the 'man of Chad'.

    Some anthropologists disagreed with the researchers' claim that S. tchadensis is the oldest known member of the hominid lineage, making it more closely related to us than to other apes. They argued that the features Brunet and colleagues were calling human-like, especially parts of the skull, were actually more gorilla-like.

    However, new teeth and jaw specimens from the Toros-Menalla site in Chad and a digital representation of Toumaï's head, reported in this week's Nature1,2, build on the original findings, says Brunet. "Now it's completely confirmed that Toumaï is not a chimp, or a gorilla, but a true hominid," he says.

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