1.8-million-year-old skull shakes mankind’s family tree

1.8-million-year-old skull shakes mankind’s family tree

Some had protruding foreheads, others had short, squashed faces. Some had enormous jaw muscles and big teeth, while others had enormous heads to hold bigger brains.

They had one thing in common, however: They were family — our ancient family, that is, from around 2 million years ago.

The world’s first completely preserved adult hominid skull from the early Pleistocene era looks surprisingly different from other skulls of the same era, yielding a remarkable insight: Man’s early ancestors appeared as physically diverse as humans do today, researchers said, and our family tree has perhaps fewer branches than today’s schoolbooks teach.

“It’s a really extraordinary find,” said paleoanthropologist Marcia S. Ponce de Leon in a press conference Wednesday announcing the findings. “For the first time, we can see a population from the early Pleistocene. We only had individuals before. Now we can make comparisons and see the range of variation.”

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