All rights reserved. Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3. The centerpiece of a treasure trove of new fossils, the skeleton—assigned to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus —belonged to a small-brained, pound kilogram female nicknamed "Ardi. The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree.
Researchers have dated the oldest known human fossil in Western Europe, a skeleton of a homo antecessor, to 1 million years old. Decades after it was discovered in the s, the homo antecessor has been a controversial hominin species. One school of thought pinned them as being the same as homo heidenbergersis, which is believed to have been around some , to , years ago. However, the work of an international team led by the Centro Nacional de Investigacion sobre de la Evolucion Humana has led to the confirmation of the age of the homo antecessor. Using new dating techniques, the team, which comprises experts from Australia, Spain, France, and China, has concluded that the homo antecessor lived in Western Europe 1 million years ago.
Fossils recovered from an old mine on a desolate mountain in Morocco have rocked one of the most enduring foundations of the human story: that Homo sapiens arose in a cradle of humankind in East Africa , years ago. Archaeologists unearthed the bones of at least five people at Jebel Irhoud, a former barite mine km west of Marrakesh, in excavations that lasted years. They knew the remains were old, but were stunned when dating tests revealed that a tooth and stone tools found with the bones were about , years old. If there was a Garden of Eden, it might have been the size of the continent.