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Tattersall continued, “And it supports the view that the early history of Homo involved vigorous experimentation with the biological and behavioral potential of the new genus, instead of a slow process of refinement in a central lineage.” Bernard Wood of George Washington University, who has studied the early Homo fossil record, wrote in a companion article in Nature, “In a nutshell, the anatomy of the specimens supports the hypothesis of multiple early Homo species.” Dr.

Wood then weighed the pros and cons of placing the new fossils with the species H.

Leakey and her colleagues wrote in the journal Nature, “These three specimens will greatly aid the reassessment of the systematics and early radiation of the genus Homo.” They, however, chose not to assign the fossils to any existing or new species until more analysis is conducted on contemporary hominids.

Fossil by fossil, scientists over the last 40 years have suspected that their models for the more immediate human family tree — the single trunk, straight as a Ponderosa pine, up from Homo habilis to Homo erectus to Homo sapiens — were oversimplified. The discovery of three new fossil specimens, announced Wednesday, is the most compelling evidence yet for multiple lines of evolution in our own genus, Homo, scientists said.

The fossils showed that there were at least two contemporary Homo species, in addition to Homo erectus, living in East Africa as early as two million years ago.

After looking “long and hard” for fossils to confirm the intriguing features of 1470’s face and show what its teeth and lower jaw were like, Dr.

Meave Leakey said this week, “At last we have some answers.” The real crux of matter, said Susan C.

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