New Georgian Fossils May Link 'Lucy' and Homo Erectus

Less-evolved specimens in Europe indicate earlier emigration from Africa
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2007 6:57 PM CDT
The remains of a 9th century Dmanisi cathedral. Most archeology in the area goes back much farther as recent finds help identify the first human ancestors to migrate out of Africa 1.8 million years ago.   (User: Koberl Wikimedia Commons)
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(Newser) – Archaeologists have unearthed four fossilized skeletons of a human ancestor that shares characteristics with the humanesque Homo erectus and the earlier, smaller Australopithicus afarensis, of which the famous 'Lucy' skeleton is a member. The fossils in the republic of Georgia contradict the previously held idea that hominids developed all key human attributes before emigrating from Africa, the NY Times reports.

Indeed, the brain of the Georgian specimen is no bigger than a chimpanzee's. Their small body and cranial sizes, along with the shape of their upper limbs resemble those of habilis, the earliest Homo—and therefore closest to Lucy's genus. However the lower limbs and feet resemble the gaunt erectus, and probably enabled their species' travel to Georgia.