New fossil evidence linked to “Lucy”, the common name of the several hundred pieces of bone that represents 40% of the skeleton of a female Australopithecus Afarensis, has been found that proves that Lucy wasn’t alone before.
These findings grew another branch in the evolutionary tree. Researchers found the jaw part of it, the lower with added fragments and teeth to be exact. The bones dated at around 3.3 million to 3.5 million years in age.
In the report, researchers assigned the fossil under another species called Australopithecus deyiremeda. The bones showed three small teeth.
“We had to look at the detailed anatomy and morphology of the teeth and the upper and lower jaws and we found major differences. This new species has very robust jaws. In addition, we see this new species had smaller teeth. The canine is really small—smaller than all known hominins we have documented in the past,” said Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, lead researcher and curator of physical anthropology in Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Although, the bones do not particularly relate to our own family tree. This new discovery adds more complications on which species truly led to the Homo sapiens branch.
In 2009, foot bones were found just near the site where the current discovery was made, but this fossil indicated another species that weren’t assigned to any classification as its origin is still in question.
“These fossils certainly create an agenda for a lot of interesting research that’s going to be done in the next decade,” stated Bernard Wood from George Washington University, who is not in any way involved in the study. He’s convinced that this discovery renders “compelling evidence” that there was another species that lived together with Lucy.
Although researchers’ analysis showed that there are variations, human evolution expert Tim White explains that this is very common with fossils.
“Anatomical variation within a biological species is normal,” he said in an email. “That’s why so many announcements of this sort are quickly overturned.” he explained, believing that the fossils were a part of Lucy’s branch.