Maybe the oldest hominin? – #365papers – 2017 – 142

#365papers for May 22, 2017

Bohme, Spassov, Ebner, Geraads, Hristova, Kirscher, Kotter, Linnemann, Prieto, Roussiakis, Theodorou, Uhlig, and Winklhofer,  2017, Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe: PlosONE, v. 12, e0177347.

What’s it about?

Hominins are humans and their non-ape ancestors. Graecopithecus appears to fall into this group. Using geochemical methods plus study of the sediments that the fossils came from, the researchers show that this fossil is the earliest hominin by a few hundred thousand years and that the environment was one of wooded grasslands or braided streams and supports the ‘Savannah Hypothesis’ of human evolution.

Why does it matter?

The age of this fossil, and its identification as an early hominin affects how we understand the split of the human lineage from that of modern apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, etc.).

Why did I read this?

This paper (and the next one) was showing up all over my news feed, so I felt I needed to read it.

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