Sunday, August 4, 2019

Discovery of the Sahelanthropus Tchadensis Fossil: Earliest Hominid :: Anthropology Essays Paleontology Papers

Discovery of the Sahelanthropus Tchadensis Fossil: Earliest Hominid In July of 2001, a group of archeologists discovered the skull and jaw bone of the oldest member of the human family. The skull is a new discovery and was found in the Djurab Desert of Northern Chad by a group of archeologists lead by Michel Brunet, and is thought to be six to seven million years old (Walton). The age of the skull and jaw bone were approximated through the association of the fauna that were found with the fossils (Brunet). The skull is a major find for archeologists because they now have a new piece of the puzzle that shows the evolution of humans from apes and it provides information to a period that scientists had very little knowledge about because of the lack of evidence (Whitfield). The skull was given the scientific name: Sahelanthropus tchadensis and was nicknamed Toumai, which is a local name for a child born perilously close to the beginning of the dry season meaning â€Å"Hope of Life† (Walton). The skull has a mix of ape and hominid, early humans who are distinctly different from apes by their upright posture, features. The brain case is similar to those of apes, being about the size as a chimp, but the thick tooth enamel and the presence of small canines in the jaw bone are features that are similar to hominids. The most surprising part of the skull is the presence of the large brow ridges found on Toumai (Groves). This is unexpected because the next oldest hominid fossils have a small or non-existent brow ridges but our family, Homo, also has large prominent brow ridges (Gee). These fossils are having a major impact on the scientific world’s view of human evolution and scientists may even have to rethink some present ideas about it. Because the skull of Toumai has characteristics that are very similar to those found in the Homo family, some scientists are beginning to question whether or not Australopithecus, an early member of the hominid family from about four to one million years ago and they are characterized by their fully upright posture and their small brain size, is even part of the evolution record of humans from apes. Bernard Wood, of George Washington University in Washington DC, argues that if Australopithecus has more ape-like features than the features found on an older

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