Thursday, July 11, 2002

Long live Toumai!

An article in the most recent issue of Nature details the finding of a possibly 6 or 7 million year-old hominid-ish skull found in Chad in Central Africa. This is about a million years older than any other hominid fossils that have been found, and also about 1500 miles away from the Great Rift Valley in East Africa, where hominids were thought to have gotten their start.

I can't really speak about the age, as the research group couldn't radiodate the skull directly. But just the fact that the skull is so far away from the Rift Valley is a huge leap in possibly understanding origins of the lineage of the great apes, of which humans are part. Toumai, as the skull has been nicknamed, should get paleoanthropologists looking in the region between a hypothesized Mega-Lake Chad (a tropical forestland that has since become desert) and Kenya.

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