Skip to comments.'Old Man Of Chad' Confirmed As First Hominid
Posted on 04/06/2005 5:37:59 PM PDT by blam
'Old man of Chad' confirmed as first hominid
New evidence shows that a seven-million-year old skull found in the African desert belonged to one of man's earliest ancestors, reports Roger Highfield
A squashed, fractured and twisted skull, which has been at the centre of controversy for three years, has been confirmed as the oldest known member of mankind.
The skull, between six and seven million years old, was found in the Djurab desert of northern Chad in 2002.
Sahelanthropus tchadensis was described variously as "a turning point", "a small nuclear bomb" and "the most important fossil discovery in living memory".
It helped to fill a three-million-year gap in our knowledge between the last common ancestor we shared with chimpanzees, and the earliest accepted hominids.
The ancient hominid was nicknamed Toumaï, or "hope of life", the name given to babies born in the Djurab before the dry season.
It was found by a team led by Prof Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers, who talked of his emotion at being able to hold "the beginning of the human lineage."
But three months after his announcement, the journal Nature carried an attack by rival scientists who claimed that Toumaï was an ape. Even with only part of a head to go on, the critics said the evidence suggested that the creature could not walk upright and features of its canine teeth were just as chimp-like as hominid-like.
The row was then seized on by creationists to dispute the facts of evolution. But today in Nature Prof Brunet and colleagues in Switzerland, America and Chad provide evidence to show that the "old man of Chad" really was more human than ape.
New tooth and jaw fragments found nearby in northern Chad show several key differences between ancient hominids and S. tchadensis and African apes.
Opponents of Brunet's theory had argued that Toumaï's fossilised skull is too squashed and twisted to draw any definite conclusions about his identity as a hominid.
But Prof Brunet presents a virtual reconstruction of the original look of the skull, based on a technique called computed tomography.
The new hominid displays a unique combination of characters, such as a "relatively vertical" face, and thick brow ridge, which, with canine teeth features and enamel thickness, suggest a close relationship to the last common ancestor between humans and chimpanzees.
Certain features of the restored virtual skull hint that S. tchadensis may have walked upright, unlike its ape contemporaries.
Prof Brunet estimates that Toumaï was more than a metre tall and had a brain about the size of a chimpanzee's. "This process allows us to undo the effects of time, taking the cranium back to the death of Toumaï, seven million years ago," he said.
Prof Tim White, a palaeontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said he is swayed by the new work: "Perhaps the restoration of the Toumaï cranium will allow Brunet's critics to lay their jealousies to rest and recognise what the rest of the field appreciated from the beginning - this is not a gorilla, a chimpanzee, or a human. It is a very primitive hominid."
Prof Brunet's excavations have found evidence of 50 species that lived seven million years ago, with more than 25 primitive mammals including carnivores, aardvarks, elephants, three-toed horses, giraffes, antelopes, hippopotamuses, a very large wild boar, rodents and monkeys.
The great age of Toumaï suggests an early larger African distribution of hominids (at least from six million years ago) and an earlier chimpanzee-human divergence (at least as early as seven million years ago) than previously indicated by most molecular studies.
Hanging Chad jokes commence!
I thought that would have been Al Gore.
Long lost twin brother of Keith Richards. ;)
Toumai (Picture too)
I saw the skull on BBC world news. Not much to go on there. The big issue was the angle at which the spine attached to it. At an angle would mean a knuckle-walker, up-and-down would mean a biped. There have been some mighty parlous fossils specimens that whole theories and reputations have been built on. Soon to be overturned by the next big discovery.
One of my favorites is the arguments over the most primitive stone tools, i.e., were they naturally or manually chipped?
Obviously, the other chimps killed him because of his odd-shaped head.
Please, everyone! Have a little respect for my great great ... great grandfather.
"Earliest Found" not "First." Their headline writers need some editing.
Maybe they should just name this guy .... CHAD ?
Isn't there a limerick that commences:
"There was an Old Man of Chad"?
If not, shouldn't there be?
We walked together hand and hand
Cross miles and miles of golden sand
For me you were the one
But that was yesterday
And yesterday's gone.
We had such happiness together
I can't believe it's gone for ever and ever.
Wait till summer comes again.
I hope that you'll remember when
Our love had just begun.
I loved you yesterday,
But yesterday's gone.
Yup. George Carter was continuously finding stone axes, etc. He would take them to archaeologists and they would say that they were manmade stone tools...until, he told them he found them in California. These 'axes' he found came to be known as Carterfacts.
"The most controversial site is Saint Eble, just below Mont Coupet, in southcentral France. Here one finds quartz fragments that look manmade to some archeologists, but seem products of natural fracturing to others. These crude objects are what some American archeologists call "Carterfacts," after G. Carter, who has found similar rock fragments in the Americas and dates them much, much earlier than 12,000 B.P.
Thought everyone knew it:
The once was an Old Man of Chad
Who drove creationist quite mad
With the slope of his spine
He made them all whine
"Despite all our learning, we've been had"
Just had to ping ya.
Digging up bones is no way to go through life.
These guys wax rhapsodic at the drop of a skullcap.
Ahh! But I know of at least one anthropologist who is convinced that Homo Erectus and early hominids DID live in the Americas hundreds of thousands of years ago BEFORE the ice ages but that the great glaciers scoured away all trace of their existence.
I'm one of those:
YEC INTREP - HOMINID MYTH
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