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)
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