• Question: What do we know about fossils dated earlier than the fossil of lucy?

    Asked by rosie2xmas18 to Kevin, Hannah, Anthony on 9 Jan 2019.
    • Photo: Hannah Cornish

      Hannah Cornish answered on 9 Jan 2019:

      Hi Rosie,

      Scientist have found a few fossil species that might be our ancestors from the time after humans split from chimps, but before Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) was around. There are two species of Ardipithecus from 4.4-5.6 million years ago in Ethiopia, and Orrorin tugenensis from 6.1-5.7 million years ago in Kenya.

      Sahelanthropus tchadensis was a species of ape alive in what is now Chad in central Africa around 7 million years ago. This was about the time that humans and chimps had their last shared ancestor, so Sahelanthropus could have been that ancestor, or it might just be a related species.

      There are not very many of these fossils, and scientists don’t always agree exactly where they fit in the ape family tree! There is still lots of work to be done, and there might be other experts here who can tell you much more about it.



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