Scientists have told us that we?re all descended from oneEve, like the ancient, primitive partial female skeletonthat archeologists named Lucy. They?ve never figured outwhat happened to the Neanderthals?did they intermix with ourancestors or did they die out? Now it?s been discovered thatthree distinct groups of early humans migrated from Africaand maybe even lived together about 1.7 million years ago.The evidence is a skull and other fossils that have beenfound in the Republic of Georgia, part of the former SovietUnion.
The new skull is different?smaller and more primitive?thanthe two skulls found there two years ago, so it means that a3rd ancestor came out of Africa as well. This suggests thatseveral different humanlike species may have made the longjourney from Africa together. ?We may have three distinctgroups together at one site at the same time, 1.7 millionyears ago,? says Reid Ferring, an archaeological geologistfrom the University of North Texas. ?That is more variety atone site and time than anybody has ever dreamed possible.?
Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University, says that if thediscoveries of three different species are confirmed, itwill ?throw a monkey wrench into many people?s ideas aboutearly Homo migration out of Africa.?
The newest skull is intriguing because it?s much smallerthan the other two. It?s so small, it would have housed abrain about half the size of human brains today. Scientistsare surprised that a creature with such a primitiveintelligence could have had the ability to make it out ofAfrica and survive and adapt along the way. Maybe he got alittle help from his two companions.
The fossils found at the archaeological site in Dmanisi,Georgia are the biggest collection of well-preserved earlyhuman fossils known anywhere in the world. Layers of thesefossils have been discovered beneath the ruins of thismedieval town. Once the three travelers made it to the East,they decided to stay?until the Middle Ages, anyway.
David Lordkipanidze of the Georgian Academy of Sciences saysthe small brain size of the new discovery ?suggests thatenlargement of the brain was not the only reason to leaveAfrica.? He thinks the 3 skulls are from individuals of thesame species, but that there were still major variationswithin the species of Homo erectus at that time. The mostrecent discovery would have had a short nose, thick brow andhuge teeth.
Ferring thinks the early migrating Africans may have stoppedwhen they got to Georgia because the hunting was so good.Primitive tools have been found at the site, along with thebones of animals like those in Africa, including rhinos,elephants, giraffes and horses, as well as deer, pigs, bearsand wolves.
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