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Oldest Skull.

A battered 3.5-million-year-old skull found near Kenya's Lake Turkana has scientists hotly debating the place of a fossil called Lucy in the human family tree.

"Until this find, Lucy's species--Australopithecus afarensis--was considered the only possible human ancestor in the middle Pliocene [3.5 million years ago] era," says legendary fossil hunter Meave Leakey at the National Museums of Kenya: "Now we have two possible candidates." One became extinct; the other kept evolving. "But I don't know which one," Leakey says.

The new skull dates from the same era as Lucy, but belongs to a previously unknown species. Unlike Lucy, who has a protruding ape-like jaw, with big teeth for chewing grasses and roots, the new skull has a flat, humanlike face with small teeth for eating fruits and insects. Leaky named it, Kenyanthropus platyops, meaning "the flat-faced human from Kenya."
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Title Annotation:fossils
Author:Masibay, Kim
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:May 7, 2001
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