The new species of human ancestor was unearthed in Ethiopia, Africa and was named Australopithecus deyiremeda.
Researchers who made the discovery believe this prehistoric cousin of the modern human walked the Earth approximately 3.5 million year ago.
The fossil consists of the upper and lower jaw and was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia, which is located 22 miles from where another species of human ancestor was found, the Australopithecus afarensis hominin.
Researchers believe that the new species of ancient human ancestor is close related to Lucy, one of the oldest hominins.
Scientists detailed what they found in the journal Nature.
According to them, the human ancestry is made of more species that than what was previously believed, and some of them may have lived at the same time in different regions.
Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, lead researcher, talked about the recent discovery, saying that it could be another confirmation that the Australopithecus afarensis, which is Lucy’s species, was not the only human ancestor that lived during the middle Pliocene period in what is now Ethiopia’s Afar region.
Dr. Haile-Selassie said that the recent discovery points to the fact that there were at least two or three human species that were living at the same time very close to each to each other.
The new findings contradict what was previously believed, that many species of humans lived in one period at a time, not in the same time period.
The new species of human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia makes the scientists reconsider the hominin diversity.
Dr. Haile-Selassie continued saying that there will be researchers who will be skeptical about the newly found species, but that’s something that usually happens.
The scientists compared the new species of hominin to that of Lucy and found some differences, mainly in the lower jaw structure and the cheek bones.
The new one had thicker teeth enamel and the upper and lower cheek teeth were smaller than Lucy’s.
Dr. Haile-Selassie believes that Lucy’s species and the newly discovered one may have been in competition for resources and food.
However, some evidence point out the fact that these two different species may not have been rivals because they had different diets.
According to the experts, two other species of human ancestors may have lived at the same time and populated the same regions. Those species are Australopithecus bahrelghazali from Chad and Kenyanthropus platyops from Kenya.
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