Earliest Human Species Possibly Found in Ethiopia

An ancient jawbone fragment is the oldest human fossil discovered yet, a bone potentially from a new species that reveals the human family may have arose a half million years earlier than previously thought, researchers say.

This find also sheds light on the kind of landscape where humans first originated, scientists added.

Although modern humans are the only human lineage alive today, other human species once roamed the Earth. These extinct lineages were members of the genus Homo just as modern humans are.

For decades, scientists have been searching Africa for signs of the earliest phases of the human family, during the shift from more apelike Australopithecus species to more human early Homo species. Until now, the earliest credible fossil evidence of the genus Homo was dated to about 2.3 million or 2.4 million years ago. Read more.

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Genetic analysis of 40,000-year-old jawbone reveals early modern humans interbred with Neandertals

In 2002, archaeologists discovered the jawbone of a human who lived in Europe about 40,000 years ago. Geneticists have now analyzed ancient DNA from that jawbone and learned that it belonged to a modern human whose recent ancestors included Neanderthals.

Neanderthals lived in Europe until about 35,000 years ago, disappearing at the same time modern humans were spreading across the continent. The new study, co-led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator David Reich at Harvard Medical School and Svante Pääbo at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, provides the first genetic evidence that humans interbred with Neanderthals in Europe. The scientists reported their findings in the June 22, 2015, issue of the journal Nature.

“We know that before 45,000 years ago, the only humans in Europe were Neanderthals. After 35,000 years ago, the only humans in Europe were modern humans. Read more.

Big-Toothed Fossil May Be Primitive New Human

The first known prehistoric human from Taiwan has been identified and may represent an entirely new species that lived as recently as 10,000 years ago, according to a new study.

The newly discovered big-toothed human, “Penghu 1,” strengthens the growing body of evidence that Homo sapiens was not the only species from our genus living in Europe and Asia between 200,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Anthropologists have learned that Neanderthals, Denisovans and Homo floresiensis (a.k.a. the “Hobbit Human”) lived in Europe and Asia within that time frame. Penghu 1, which is described in the latest issue of Nature Communications, adds to that already impressive list and might have co-existed – and even interbred – with our species. Read more.