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New Homo fossil rewrites human evolution

By Jordi Bou

March 4, 2015 - A new jaw fossil suggests that the Homo genus – modern humans and their close relatives – arose about 2.8 million years ago, almost half a million years earlier than previous evidence had indicated.

Until now, the oldest member of the Homo genus was thought to be Homo habilis ("handy man") who lived some 2.3 million years ago. But the new fossil, described in a pair of papers published Wednesday in Science, is some 400,000 years older, and seems to link more recent members of the genus to the primates that preceded them.

This period is significant because it bridges the gap between the time when Australopithecus flourished and when genus Homo appeared. The most famous Australopithecus fossil is Lucy, a member of the species Australopithecus afarensis.

PUBLISHED: 04/03/2015; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images