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Instead, human evolution has been throughout its long history a matter of experimentation, with new species being constantly spawned and thrown into the ecological arena to compete and, more often than not, become extinct.
Viewed this way, is simply the last surviving twig on a vast and intricately branching bush, rather than the sole occupant of a summit that has been laboriously climbed and, by extension, somehow earned.
may have originated as early as about 2.8 mya, though the record during this time is tantalizingly fragmentary.
A variety of incomplete or broken fossils from the period between about 2.5 and 2.0 mya have been placed in the category of “early .
In contrast, a majority of paleoanthropologists, wishing to bring the study of hominins into line with that of other mammals, prefer to assign to molecular clocks to calculate how long species had been separated from a common ancestor.
These are thought to belong to the same species as the remarkably complete 1.6-million-year-old skeleton named “Turkana Boy,” found at nearby Nariokotome.
The nature of the association between the two finds is not yet completely evident, as even partial hominin skeletons are almost vanishingly rare as researchers delve deeper into the past to a time before the introduction of burial practices.
The most remarkable aspect of this skull is the broadness and flatness of its face—something previously associated with much more recent hominins—in conjunction with a smaller, ape-sized braincase.
This specimen also has small canine teeth compared with those of apes, thus aligning it with the hominins in an important functional regard.
These fossils, along with the slightly older trails of footprints found at Laetoli, Tanzania, prove that early hominins were upright bipeds when on the ground.