Fossil jaw found in Ethiopia a missing link in the human evolution puzzle

From ABC News in Science, 5 March 2015:

The discovery of a 2.8-million-year-old partial jawbone in Africa could rewrite the history of human evolution.

An international team of researchers found the lower jawbone, complete with teeth, at the Ledi-Geraru site in the Ethiopian Rift Valley, and published the finding in a report today in the journal Science.

The primitive jawbone is approximately 400,000 years older than Homo habilis, also known as Handy Man, which is the earliest known species in the Homo lineage that led to modern humans.

Together with another study that examines the evolution of Homo habilis, the find could fill a gap in the fossil record that has frustrated scientists for nearly 50 years.

“The fossil record for humans between two million and three million years ago is just very poor and has long been known as a gap in human evolution,” said lead author and anthropologist Dr Brian Villmoare, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The fossil provides clues to changes in the jaw and teeth in Homo only 200,000 years after the last known occurrence of the Australopithecus genus that includes the fossil Lucy from the nearby site of Hadar. Read more.

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