Jul 11, 2007
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) -- Ethiopian scientists said on Tuesday they have discovered hominid fossil fragments dating from between 3.5 million and 3.8 million years ago in what could fill a crucial gap in the understanding of human evolution.
Ethiopian archaeologist Yohannes Haile Selassie said the find included several complete jaws and one partial skeleton and were unearthed in the Afar desert at Woranso-Mille, near where the famous fossil skeleton known as Lucy was found in 1974.
"This is a major finding that could fill a gap in human evolution," he told a news conference in Addis Ababa.
"The fossil hominids from the Woranso-Mille area sample a time period that is poorly known in human evolutionary study."
Researchers say the area, about 140 miles northeast of Addis, boasts the most continuous record of human evolution.
Last year, an international team of scientists unveiled the discovery of 4.1 million-year-old fossils in the region.
Lucy, the most famous find, lived between 3.3 million and 3.6 million years ago. But Yohannes said Afar had yielded early hominid fossil remains spanning the last 6 million years.
"This has placed Ethiopia in the forefront of paleoanthropology," he told reporters.
"Ethiopia is known to the world as the cradle of humankind.