Photo by: Sileshi Semaw
IU Bloomington paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw holds the fossil of a hominid mandible (lower jaw bone) believed to be about 4.5 million years old
Scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and seven other institutions have unearthed skeletal fossils of a human ancestor believed to have lived about 4.5 million years ago. The fossils, described in this week’s Nature (Jan. 20), will help scientists piece together the mysterious transformation of primitive chimp-like hominids into more human forms.
The fossils were retrieved from the Gona Study Area in northern Ethiopia, only one of two sites to yield fossil remains of Ardipithecus ramidus. "A few windows are now opening in Africa to glance into the fossil evidence on the earliest hominids," said IUB paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw, who led the research.
Semaw and colleagues also report new evidence that suggests the human ancestors lived in close quarters with a menagerie of antelope, rhinos, monkeys, giraffes and hippos in a northern Ethiopia that was far wetter than it is today. The environmental reconstructions suggest a mosaic of habitats, from woodlands to grasslands. Research is continuing at Gona to determine which habitats A. ramidus preferred.
David Bricker | EurekAlert!
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