1.8-million-year-old skull marks scientific milestone - KMSP-TV

1.8-million-year-old skull marks scientific milestone

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Fascinating discoveries are being made surrounding a skull that was found in Eastern Europe eight years ago. Back in 2005, a nearly 2-million-year-old skull was found and giving anthropologists a clearer picture of our early human ancestors. This skull was the fifth one found in the same area, from the same time period, which means scientists are getting, for the first time, a glimpse into what the population looked like 1.8 million years ago.

Skull 5, the world's first completely preserved adult hominid skull from the early Pleistocene era, looks surprisingly different from other skulls of the same era. Man's early ancestors appeared as physically diverse as humans do today, researchers said, and our family tree has perhaps fewer branches than we first thought.

Skull 5 is different than the four other skulls found in Dmanisi, Georgia.

"The five Dmanisi individuals are no more different from each other than any five modern humans or chimpanzees," said neurobiologist Christoph Zollikofer, a co-author of the paper with Ponce de Leon, both of whom work at the Anthropological Institute and Museum in Zurich, Switzerland.

Because this area has been researched and dug up so well, we are also getting a good idea of what life was like for these early humans.

"We found stone tools and cut marks on animal bones, which indicate that hominids were actively involved in meat-processing. This was a place with stiff competition between carnivores and hominids. We found almost a hundred carnivores and it seems they were fighting for the carcasses. Fortunately for the hominids, and fortunately for us, they were not always successful," Lordkipanidze said.

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