A 1.8 million-year-old skull found in Georgia could turn current understanding of evolution on its head. A new study claims that early man did not come from Africa as seven species, but was actually a single ‘homo erectus’ with variations in looks.
The case revolves around an early human skull found in a stunningly well-preserved state at an archaeological dig at the site of the medieval hill city of Dmanisi in Georgia, a study in the journal Science revealed on Thursday.
Stone tools were found next to the remains, indicating that the species hunted large carnivorous prey, including probably saber-toothed tigers.
A team of scientists spent over eight years studying the find, whose original date of excavation was 2005. Its jawbone was actually discovered back in 2000, but only recently have the parts been assembled to produce a complete skull.
New dating technology allowed scientists to establish that these early humans come from around 1.8 million years ago. Near to the bone fragments were the remains of huge prehistoric predators; the area is next to a river and was full of them, as they encountered humans in fights to the death.
The skull has a tiny brain about a third of the size of our modern Homo sapiens incarnation; it also has protruding brows, jutting jaws and other characteristics we have come to expect from lesser developed prehistoric humans.
But the surprising revelation came when the skull was placed next to four other skulls discovered within a 100-kilometer radius. They vary so much in appearance that it brings into question whether the current understanding of species variation is correct.