New fossil finds (fwd)

Elaine Hills (ehills@SOLEIL.ACOMP.USF.EDU)
Tue, 21 Nov 1995 09:12:42 -0500

I just thought I'd run this by everyone to see what you think of this
article and if there were any similar articles run locally for anyone else.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 22:21:13 -0500
From: James Milne (UND) <>
Subject: New fossil finds

In case you missed today's paper, here's proof that all these
theories are still subject to change!

Bones in Africa, China shed new light on man
Tampa Tribune, November 16, 1995

Scientists have discovered a partial jaw some 3 million to
3.5 million years old that suggests early human ancestors
roamed over much more of Africa than previously thought.

The remains were found in Chad in central Africa, far from
previously known fossil sites on the continent's east coast
and southern tip.

The find greatly extends the known range of australopithecines,
human predecessors that appeared after the evolutionary split
away from the ancestors of modern apes, scientists contend.

Australopithecines gave rise to the group called Homo, which
includes modern people.

In a second report, scientists presented new evidence for the
relatively recent idea that Homo had left Africa and reached
Asia by around 2 million years ago.

Researchers reported that a partial jaw, a tooth and some stone
tools found in a Chinese cave are 1.78 million to 1.96 million
years old, making them the oldest known remains of human
ancestors in China and maybe all of Asia.

The Chinese report also suggests that one member of Homo, called
Homo erectus, evolved in Asia rather than immigrating from Africa.

Both studies appear in today's issue of the hournal Nature.

Before the Chad findiing, australopithecines had been known from
sites in South Africa and the Rift valley in the east African
nations of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. The Chad site lies some
1,500 miles west of the valley.

The finding suggests australopithecine remains may also be found
even farther west, because the deposits that held the new fossils
extend into Cameroon, said researcher Michael Brunet of the
University of Poitiers in France.

He reported the finding withe colleagues in France and at Harvard

"If we want to understand this first time of our story, now we know
that it's necessary to know all that happened in west Africa, too,"
he said.

"Now I think it is an east side story and a west side story. Both
are very important."

The fossils from south-central China appear to come from a primitive,
tool-making member of Homo that may have given rise to Homo erectus
in Asia, said researcher Russell Clochon of the University of Iowa.

The teeth look like those of earlier Homo members known from Africa
and differ from those of erectus found in Asia, Clochon said. It's
not clear whether the Chinese Homo is a previoiusly unknown species,
he said.