Sunday, March 26, 2006

Scientists find skull of human ancestor

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Scientists in northeastern Ethiopia said Saturday that they have discovered the skull of a small human ancestor that could be a missing link between the extinct Homo erectus and modern man.

The skull Gona Project member Ashmed Humet holds could be a missing link between the extinct Homo erectus and modern man. The skull Gona Project member Ashmed Humet holds could be a missing link between the extinct Homo erectus and modern man.
Sileshi Semaw, Stone Age Institute via AP

The hominid cranium — found in two pieces and believed to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old — "comes from a very significant period and is very close to the appearance of the anatomically modern human," said Sileshi Semaw, director of the Gona Paleoanthropological Research Project in Ethiopia.
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Homo erectus, which many believe was an ancestor of modern Homo sapiens, is thought to have died out 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

The cranium dates to a time about which little is known — the transition from African Homo erectus to modern humans. The fossil record from Africa for this period is sparse and most of the specimens poorly dated, project archaeologists said.
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