Researchers have announced a new species of human ancestor called Homo bodensis. Hominins lived in Africa about half a million years ago and were the direct ancestor of modern humans.
Researchers are looking at hominids of the middle Pleistocene, a group that may help explain how Homo erectus (“upright man”) turned into Homo sapiens.
The authors of the research paper, published in Evolutionary Anthropology Issues News and Reviews, state that Homo bodensis is a group of hominins that spread across Africa, the Mediterranean, and Eurasia.
“Talking about human evolution during this period was made impossible by the lack of proper terminology that acknowledges human geographic diversity,” lead author Mirjana Ruksandik, a paleontologist and professor at the University of Winnipeg, told UPI.
Homo erectus appeared in Africa about 1.9 million years ago. Fossil evidence shows it has survived for at least 250,000 years, making it the longest-lived of all our human relatives.
It was previously believed that two humans, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo rhodesiensis, were the common ancestor of modern humans.
In their analysis, the researchers suggest that the skull found at Bodu Dar, Ethiopia, does not belong to either H. heidelbergensis or H. rhodesiense. Rather, it is a completely new type.
The new species had a short, stocky body. The man was probably about 1.75 meters tall and weighed about 63 kilograms, while the women averaged 1.57 meters and about 50 kilograms. The species became extinct about 200,000 years ago – long before the migration of modern humans from Africa.