Searching for the roots of our lineage: 6 African skulls from the Late Middle Pleistocene

Searching for the roots of our lineage: 6 African skulls from the Late Middle Pleistocene

Last January, Lee Berger challenged me on Twitter to add Homo naledi to a picture I posted, which came from a paper by Aurélien Mounier & Marta Mirazón (2019). That was an image of five hominins from the African Late Middle Pleistocene. I found it interesting, so after getting their permission to modify the picture, here is the result! Now, I wanted to briefly describe the six specimens, and reflect on their place in the search for the roots of the human lineage.

From left to right, top to bottom:

Modified from figure 3 in Mounier & Mirazón Lahr (2019) – see reference

Omo II

Kibish rock formation, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia (1967). Age: 190-200 ka.

This cranium is quite different from the other one found at the same location: Omo I was thought to be the earliest Homo sapiens fossil until the reassessment of the Jebel Irhoud materials in 2017, which predated that record. However, Omo II is less rounded, longer and narrower than Omo I. Actually, like occurs in Jebel Irhoud, many features are outside the variation of modern humans while others are fully modern. This mosaic makes really difficult to classify this cranium and shows the variability of the African Middle Pleistocene human groups, among which many of them would have probably become extinct. Sigue leyendo