Mon, May 08, 2006 - Page 15 News List

New link in human evolution discovered

A reconstruction of the famous "Lucy" fossil discovered in Tanzania in 1974. 一九七四年在坦尚尼亞發現的知名「露西」化石之重塑模型。 (照片:法新社)


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)

Reading Comprehension

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?

a. Three.

b. Six.

c. Eight.

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.







科學家相信,最新的發現將有助於他們把人類進化的進程串連起來。這個新化石是從一個群組中發現,在某方面來說,據信這個群組已進化成現代人類。此外,新化石也顯示出更古老的化石與現代人類之間的關連。 (美聯社/翻譯:賴美君)

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