Fossil find challenges cradle theory

Early humans may have taken a detour into Eurasia before embarking on their epic journey out of Africa, according to new fossil evidence.

Palaeontologists in Georgia have unearthed fossilised remains of five hominins dating back to 1,8-million years ago, suggesting that some of our oldest ancestors lived in the region at the time.

The partial skeletons challenge the theory that our ancestors evolved entirely on the continent and left the cradle of humanity only 60 000 years ago.

David Lordkipanidze, the director of the Georgian National Museum, said the hominins were short, with small brains and strongly developed legs. Other remains suggest they lived alongside predators that included sabre-toothed cats.

The fossils are thought to be early Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans, which lived in Africa two million years ago. Lordkipanidze said some Homo erectus may have left Africa for Eurasia before returning much later.

Lordkipanidze said: “The Dmanisi people were almost modern in body proportions and were highly efficient walkers and runners ...
They were sophisticated tool-makers with high social and cognitive skills.”—

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