New ancient human species discovered near 'Lucy'

Jaw of ancestor found

New Species of Early Human Discovered

Scientists have unearthed the remains of what they believe is a new species of human in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

The fossilised teeth and jaw bones suggests that our family tree is more complicated than we thought.

Researches have named this species Australopithecus deyiremeda, meaning close relative in the language spoken by the Afar people.

The age of the bones - estimated to be between 3.3 to 3.5 million year's old - means this was potentially a fourth ancient human species which lived alongside the others at the same time.

The most famous of these early species was called 'Lucy', who lived between 2.9 and 3.8 million years ago and was initially believed to be our direct ancestor.

These recent fossils from at least three individuals, which show a combination of ape and human-like traits, were found in Woranso-Mille, the same area in which scientists dug up Lucy's remains in 1974.

The reason the latest collection of fossils suggests that an entirely different species of early humans existed is because of the thick enamel present on Australopithecus deyiremeda's molars and its smaller canines.

Both factors are evidence that it may have had a different diet to other ancient humans, reports the Huffington Post.

Scientists had previously argued that modern humans had only one ancestor living at one time, each giving rise to another new species. But this find may prove we have more ancient relatives than we first thought.