The latest fossil unearthed in Africa allows scientists to link together the most complete chain of human evolution so far.
The 4.2 million-year-old fossil discovered in northeastern Ethiopia helps scientists fill in the gaps of how our human ancestors made the giant leap from one phase of development to another. That's because the newest fossil was found in the region where seven other types of human-like fossils spanning nearly 6 million years and three major phases of human development were previously discovered.
``We just found the chain of evolution, the continuity through time,'' Berhane Asfaw, one of the co-authors of the study said. ``One form evolved to another. This is evidence of evolution in one place through time.''
Although the kind of fossil the scientists discovered is not new, its location is what helps explain the shift from one early phase of human-like development to the next, they say. All eight fossils were within an easy day's walk of each other.
Until now, scientists had individual pictures of human evolution scattered around the world. Finding everything all in one general area makes those pictures more like a short movie about evolution.
``It's like ... a home movie, but a home movie covering 6 million years,'' said study lead author Tim White, co-director of Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley.
Scientists believe this latest discovery will help them connect the dots of human evolution. The new fossil is from a group that is believed to have evolved into modern man at some point. Additionally, the new fossil shows a connection between an even older fossil and modern human beings. (AP)
1. evolution n.
進化 (jin4 hua4)
例：The theory of evolution is widely accepted all over the world.
2. phase n.
階段 (jie1 duan4)
例：Now that the builders have finished planning the new bridge, they are moving to the construction phase.
4. span v.t.
跨越 (kua4 yue4)，貫穿 (guan4 chuan1)
例：The paintings on display span several decades of Monet's work.
3. continuity n.
連續 (lian2 xu4)，連貫 (lian2 guan4)
例：Cara's family moved to many different countries when she was young, so there wasn't a lot of continuity in her education.
1. How old is the most recently discovered fossil?
a. 4.2 million years old.
b. 6 million years old.
c. 4.4 million years old.
2. What is new about this fossil?
a. It's the first fossil of its kind ever found.
b. It's the first fossil found in that part of Africa.
c. It was found close to several different types of human-like fossils.
3. How many phases of human development does the new fossil record cover?
4. What do scientists hope the new fossil will do?
a. Show them where they can find other similar fossils.
b. Prove the existence of a new kind of human-like animal.
c. Give a complete picture of how humans developed over time.
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