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EARLY HUMANOIDS



Two versions of the same story. Sorry it took 2 weeks to post this,
but I do work in cycles of about that long. This is the full story
and there is no other info available from my sources.--SVC
=========================
Scientists find new pre-human in Kenya
 LONDON (16 August) - Scientists announced Wednesday they had found a new
species of human ancestor in Kenya.
 The new discovery, named Australopithecus anamensis, looks like a cross
between two other early humans, Ardipithecus ramidus, the highly touted "missing
link" discovered last year, and Australopithecus afarensis, widely known as
"Lucy."
 A shin bone indicates the creature walked upright, which means pre-humans
walked at least half a million years earlier than scientists had believed, the
report in the science journal Nature said.
 "The discoveries add very important new insights into the very earliest
stages of human evolution and establish that upright posture and bipedalism go
back in time beyond four million years," said Meave Leakey of the National
Museums of Kenya, who worked on the study.
 She said it was not clear if the creature was a direct ancestor of humans.
"It had an ape-like upper and lower jaw and
a human-like body," she said in a telephone interview, adding: "I just hope we
find the skull and something more complete."
 The bones, which include pieces of jawbone, teeth and a shin bone, were
dated to between 3.9 and 4.2 million years ago.
 It was a fairly large creature, Leakey said, weighing between 104 pounds and
120 pounds.
 Especially human-like is the shin bone, the tibia. Previously, the earliest
evidence of pre-humans walking were footprints found in 3.75 million-year-old
volcanic ash at Laetoli in Tanzania.
 Leakey said the bones were found over a period dating back to 1965, when a
human-like humerus, or upper arm bone, was found in Northern Kenya. No one knew
what to make of it until the other pieces were discovered, identified and dated.
 It was the discovery 20 years ago of the 3.2 million year old skeleton
nicknamed Lucy that revolutionized the accepted theory of man's descent from the
apes.
 Leakey said evidence so far indicated that the new find could be a direct
ancestor of "Lucy."
 Last September, scientists working near Aramis in Ethiopia said they had
discovered a new type of early human dating back nearly 4.5 million years. Named
Ardipithecus ramidus, it was immediately labelled a "missing link" between apes
and humans.
 Many scientists dispute this.
 Leakey's husband, conservationist Richard Leakey, has written a book, "The
Origin of Humankind," putting forward the theory that, between three million and
seven million years ago, at least six pre-human species co-existed in East
Africa.
 Thursday's report would fit in with this theory. Peter Andrews, an
anthropologist specializing in early apes at the Natural History Museum in
London, said he thought the new creature was probably an early human.
 "If we saw it running around today, it would look just like an ape," he
said. "We would have asked the question: 'What is this ape doing walking on its
two feet all the time?"'
 He noted that the competition for the earliest pre-human "seems to be
hotting up."
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Fossils of early walking hominid found in Kenya
 By Manoah Esipisu
 NAIROBI, Aug 16 (Reuter) - Fossils of a new pre-human species discovered in
Kenya show that our ancestors were walking upright four million years ago ---
much earlier than previously thought -- anthropologist Meave Leakey said on
Wednesday.
 "They show very clearly that four million years ago, our ancestors did not
swing around like apes,'' Leakey told a news conference in Nairobi to announce
the discovery.
 "The discoveries add very important new insights into the very earliest
stages of human evolution and establish that upright posture and bipedalism go
back in time to beyond four million years.''
 The fossils were found in northwestern Kenya's Lake Turkana basin by a
National Museums of Kenya research team headed by Leakey and have been named
"Australopithecus anamensis.''
 The finds include jaws and teeth, dating between 3.9 and 4.1 million years
ago, a piece of skull including the ear region and a lower leg bone.
 Until Tim White of the University of Berkeley in California and his
colleagues last year announced the discovery of a new species of early hominid
from 4.4 million-year-old deposits in Ethiopia, the earliest known human
ancestor was Australopithecus afarensis -- a partial skeleton nicknamed
"Lucy'' and discovered by Meave Leakey's husband Richard in the 1970s.
 Meave Leakey said the newly-found fossils had features consistent with them
being ancestors of "Lucy.''
 Previously the earliest evidence of pre-humans walking were footprints
found in 3.75 million-year-old volcanic ash at Laetoli in Tanzania.
 Leakey said primitive features distinguishing the species from other known
early human ancestors were in the crania and dentition and included almost
parallel mandibular tooth rows set close together, large canines with long
strong roots, wide flaring molar teeth and a small elliptical external opening
of the ear.
 "In contrast, the leg and arm bones have relatively modern morphology and
the shape of the former indicates that at this early date, human ancestors were
walking bipedally,'' Leakey said.
 The most complete specimens of Australopithecus anamensis were recovered
from a site southwest of Lake Turkana. With the exception of one specimen the
fossils were recovered between 1988 and 1995.
 Leakey said the national museum research work around Lake Turkana was a
long-term project in an area investigated for 27 years since her husband led an
initial expedition in 1968.
 The fossils were found on the surface and Leakey said she planned to start
excavating in the next expedition period from May to August next year for any
possible additional evidence.
 A description of the fossils, geology of the site and dating techniques was
to be published in the science journal Nature.
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