Family tree branches out
Our family tree has grown once again with the identification of another new species of early human ancestor, based on fresh analysis of a partial skull found decades ago in South Africa's famous Sterkfontein Caves, near Johannesburg.
Identified and named as Homo gautengensis by anthropologist Dr Darren Curnoe, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth Environmental Sciences, the surprise finding is the earliest recognised species of Homo. While earlier fossils belong to the genus Homo, none have yet been classified in any species.
The finding will be reported soon in HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology.
Dr Curnoe says the broader significance of the find, like the recent discovery of another new African hominin species Australopithecus sediba - by a team involving UNSW palaeoanthropologist Dr Andy Herries - lies in what it adds to the surprising number of new human and human-like species announced in recent years and the growing complexity of the human evolutionary story.