Implications of the Sahelanthropus Tchadensis (Toumai) Discovery

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Implications of the Sahelanthropus Tchadensis (Toumai) Discovery

Compared to the complete history of life on earth, human history is relatively brief. The earth is billions of years old and living organisms probably appeared some two to four billion years ago. Many different kinds of animals have been inhabiting the earth for hundreds of millions of years. Early hominids which are human like creatures are thought to have originated just 5 million years ago and modern humans around 100,000 years ago. There have been a recent discovery that is now challenging the appearance of the early hominids.

In the country of Chad which is located in central Africa scientists have recently made a discovery of a hominid skull. This skull was dated back to between 6 and 7 million years ago. The discovery was led by anthropologist Michel Brunet from the University of Poitiers in France. The find was named Sahelanthropus tchadensis and is nicknamed “Toumai” which means “hope of life” in an African language. The fossil find is an almost complete skull, some teeth, and a few fragments of the lower jaw. (Bower 2002)

This fossil find is completely surprising and amazing. The remains that were found represent the earliest known member in the line of human evolution. This find could be the beginning of many which could completely change our current ideas of human evolution. This pushes back the dates of human history by 2 million years. If Toumai is truly a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees this makes the molecular clock theory wrong. The molecular clock dates the divergence of humans and chimpanzees somewhere around 5 million years ago while the Toumai discovery suggests that is was 6 to 7 million years ago. (Bower 2002)

Homini...

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...of the same kind. This is only one very small link in the massive chain of human origin. Scientists need to continue to search the globe and make more new discoveries to further challenge the norm and uncover the truth of our history.

Sources:

Bower, Bruce. Evolutions surprise: fossil find uproots our early ancestors. Science News 13 July 2002; vol. 162, No. 2, P. 19. 4 April 2004

www.sciencenews.org

Brunet, Michel. A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature 418, 145-151. 11 July 2002. 4 April 2002

www.ezproxy.ithaca.edu

Paoli, Laurence. Toumai: Shaking our conceptions on the earliest steps of Hominid history. Science In Africa August 2002. 5 April 2004

www.scienceinafrica.com

Whitfield, John. Oldest member of the human family found. Nature News Service/Macmillan Magazines 11 July 2002. 4 April 2004

www.nature.com

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