Strange cave-fellows? Unexpected discovery suggests 3 early human species lived together in South Africa

herries hr
La Trobe University PhD student Angeline Leece in front of fossil bearing brecccia at Drimolen. Credit: Jesse Martin

Two million years ago, three different early humans—Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and the earliest-known Homo erectus—appear to have lived at the same time in the same place, near the Drimolen Paleocave System. How much these different species interacted remains unknown. But their contemporaneous existence suggests our ancient relations were quite diverse during a key transitional period of African prehistory that saw the last days of Australopithecus and the dawn of H. erectus’s nearly two-million-year run.

If [paleoanthropologist Andy] Herries and colleagues are correct that they have found Homo erectus, the early dates of the find pose an intriguing question: How did the species arrive in South Africa?

One possibility is that H. erectus originated here and later spread to East Africa and then out of the continent. However, Herries says that the discovery of the oldest-known bones doesn’t necessarily mean H. erectus started in this locale. Perhaps they migrated to the area.

ADVERTISEMENT

Related article:  Much more than an 'itchy pest': Mosquitoes have played a major role in human history

“We talk a lot about [diverse species coexisting] with Neanderthals, modern humans, and Denisovans, and we can see that with DNA, but we don’t have that ability with this earlier stuff,” adds Herries. “I’m sure it happened and this may be one of the first instances where we can really see it.”

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.

We Noticed You Have An Ad Blocker On.

Can you help fund the GLP? We're a nonprofit, so it's tax-deductible.

glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend