Skull leads Zurich researchers to ‘rewrite’ history of man

Skull 1.8 million years old found in Georgia.

by Malcolm Curtis|The Local Switzerland|October 17, 2013

Scientists from the University of Zurich have put in question the history of man after uncovering a skull 1.85 million years old with colleagues from Georgia, where it was found.

The find indicates that species diversity two million years ago was “much smaller than presumed thus far,” the university said in a news release.

And it shows that diversity within the first global species of human, Homo erectus, “was as great as in humans today”.

The skull is the fifth to be found in Dmanisi, Georgia, following the recovery there of four other well-preserved skulls from the same period.

It was unearthed by anthropologists from the University of Zurich collaborating with Georgian colleagues under a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The latest find, known as Dmanisi Skull 5, “has the largest face, the most massively built jaw and teeth and the smallest brain within the . . . group”.

The reason why Skull 5 is so important is that it unites features that have been used previously as an argument for defining different African “species”, university anthropologist Christoph Zollikofer says.

“Had the brain-case and the face of the Dmanisi sample been found as separate fossils, they very probably would have been attributed to two different species,” Zollikofer says in a statement.

“It is also decisive that we have five well-preserved individuals in Dmanisi whom we know to have lived in the same place and at the same time.”

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About Malcolm Curtis

Freelance English-language communications professional (writing, editing, translations) based near Geneva, Switzerland. Let me know if I can help you.
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