A recent analysis of the human and chimpanzee genomes compared with portions of other primate genomes suggests that the divergence of the human and chimpanzee lineages beginning around 6 million years ago was not a simple clean split.].Given the extraordinary similarity of the chimpanzee and human genomes, scientists and the public alike have often asked such questions.Essentially we've found a number of new hominins and these have been wreaking havoc on evolutionary theory over the past decade.
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I have been looking for this for so long, Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France told Nature in July.
He and his research team from the Mission Paléoanthropologique Franco-Tchadienne published two articles in the July 11 Nature: one that describes the mosaic features of the purported hominid and another that describes the hodgepodge that is the fossils environment.
"The new research by famed paleontologist Meave Leakey in Kenya shows our family tree is more like a wayward bush with stubby branches, calling into question the evolution of our ancestors.
The old theory was that the first and oldest species in our family tree, Homo habilis, evolved into Homo erectus, which then became us, Homo sapiens.
The fossils in question — corresponding to species named — have all made headlines in recent years for filling in gaps in the evolution from apes to humans.
Though they've been hailed as remnants of some of our earliest hominin ancestors, paleoanthropologists Bernard Wood of George Washington University and Terry Harrison of New York University say they're probably just non-hominin ape bones.
And yet, from its shape, paleoanthropologists have concluded that the specimen must have walked upright.
"The position of its foramen magnum"—the spot where the brain connects to the spinal cord—"has historically been argued to be associated with bipedalism," said Harrison.
19 in the science journal Nature, two paleoanthropologists argue that some recently discovered primate fossils may not be as human as everyone thinks.
While the authors maintain that humans did, of course, evolve from apes, their contentions highlight the difficulty of using 7-million-year-old bone fragments to piece together the full story of human evolution.
"However, we see from comparative anatomy that that's not always the case." In 2008, partial skeleton found in 2009, Harrison said, "It's a remarkable find.