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3.8-Million-Year-Old Fossil Cranium Unveils More About Human Ancestry

By Penn State News

September 4, 2019

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Researchers at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), Case Western Reserve University, and Italy's University of Bologna have gained new insights into human evolution via digital reconstruction of 3.8-million-year-old fossilized cranium fragments of a hominid from Ethiopia.

Penn State's Timothy M. Ryan said the team scanned the fossils with micro-computed tomography (CT), then processed the data to build three-dimensional models.

The Bologna scientists computer-modeled the fossil based on CT scan data to predict the hominid's likely appearance.

By identifying and dating the fossil, the team was able to compare its facial features with those of a partial cranium discovered decades earlier, and determined the latter belonged to a close relative.

Case Western's Yohannes Haile-Selassie said, "This is a game changer in our understanding of human evolution during the Pliocene [5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago]."

From Penn State News
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