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3.8-million-year-old skull in Ethiopia an evolution game-changer


Major discovery 'looks set to become another celebrated icon of human evolution' after Lucy in 1974, scientist says.

A "remarkably complete" 3.8-million-year-old skull of an early human has been excavated by Palaeontologists in Ethiopia, a discovery that has the potential to change the understanding of human evolution.

The find, known as "MRD", revealed the face of a presumed ancestor of the species famously represented by Lucy, the celebrated Ethiopian partial skeleton found in 1974.

Scientists have long known this species of hominin - A anamensis - existed but the discovered facial remains had been limited to jaws and teeth.

The newly found fossil includes much of the skull and face.

"This skull is one of the most complete fossils of hominids more than three million years old," said Yohannes Haile-Selassie, the renowned Ethiopian paleoanthropologist of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and co-author of two studies published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Fred Spoor of the Natural History Museum of London wrote in a commentary accompanying the studies that the discovery "looks set to become another celebrated icon of human evolution". 

The fossil was found in 2016 in what was once sand deposited in a river delta on the shore of a lake. 

At a news conference in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Haile-Selassie described how Ali Bereino, a "local guy" from Afar, found the jaw of MRD and immediately brought it to his attention. Read more...

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