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A New Species of Human?

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Can you imagine being a scientist and discovering a new piece of evidence that other forms of life once existed? Well, it’s happened again! Everything you knew about science and who the first species of humans were is about to change—scientists believe they have found a new Homo species that existed before Homo Sapiens. 

Over a century ago, scientists discovered a well-preserved, 300,000-year-old skull. They believe the artifact possibly belonged to a Homo heidelbergensis, a population that evolved before Homo Sapiens. It is believed there are now three different Homo species that originated in Africa and may have even interbred with each other. Researchers suggest a small amount of DNA from both may be present in West Africans living today. 

“We can now identify at least three distinct and contemporary [Homo] lineages in Africa about 300,000 years ago, but we don’t yet know whether our ancestry was largely or entirely contained within the H. sapiens part of that variation,” says paleoanthropologist, Chris Stinger.

For decades researchers haven’t been able to pin down exactly how old the skull is. It was found at a site in south-central Africa, researchers also found two-legged fossils associated with the skull. 

Rainer Grün of Griffith University in Australia was able to identify the age of the skull by its teeth and bone fragments. His team was able to date the samples by looking at measurements of radioactive decay from the sediment in the area. 

Scientists believe there could be traces of the Homo heidelbergensis and Homo Naledi species in humans today. As for now, the research must continue. Read more about this amazing discovery here.

Alanna Smith is a writer based in New York City. Her background is in communications and digital marketing. She loves reading fantasy novels and cooking in her spare time, as well as traveling. Her passions lie in social justice, unsolved mysteries, and history.