Show Details

Primitive Ape-Man

May 17, 2006

Scientists have discovered one of our early apelike ancestors.


Filling in our family tree. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A set of 4-million-year-old fossils in Africa has filled in a missing piece of our ancestry. University of California at Berkeley biologist Tim White co-led the team of 60 scientists from 17 countries that discovered and studied them. The fossils come from the earliest form of Australopithecus anamensis, an ape-like species whose descendants include modern humans. What’s more, nearby rock layers from different eras contain fossils of both earlier and later species of ape-men.

TIM WHITE (University of California at Berkeley):
So, here we have a succession of hominid ancestors, very well dated. This is the best evidence of human evolution.

The new find captures our ancestors just when their teeth grew big enough to broaden their diet, which helped their descendants spread across the globe. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.