Ethiopian Finds Earliest Human Ancestor

Ethiopian Finds Earliest Human Ancestor


   Addis Ababa, July 12, 2001 (WIC)- An international team has announced the discovery of

   bones and teeth of the earliest creatures on our branch of the family tree.  The fossils date to

   between 5.2 and 5.8 million years ago.


   According to a statement issued by the team, they were found and described by Yohannes

   Haile-Selassie, a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley. 


   The fossils were found along the western margin of the Afar Rift, in Ethiopia's Middle Awash

   study area. The Middle Awash lies within the Afar depression, about 230km northeast of Addis

   Ababa, and about 50 miles 75 km south of Hadar where the 3.2 million-year-old "Lucy" was

   found nearly thirty years ago.


   The Middle Awash study area is already famous for other major discoveries such as the 4.4

   million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus, before this, the oldest known hominid.  In 1999 the

   same team announced its discovery of the 2.5 myr Australopithecus garhi from the same

   study area.


   The statement further said the Middle Awash study has been conducted since 1981 under the

   joint direction of Professors Desmond Clark and Tim White of U.C. Berkeley, DR. Giday Wolde

   Gabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as  Drs. Berhane Asfaw and Yonas Beyene

   of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


   Because these and all other hominids older than 4.4 million years have been found in similar

   wooded habitats in Ethiopia and Kenya, the researchers suggest that all of the known earliest

   hominids derive from relatively wet and wooded environments.   


   Meanwhile, the Authority for the conservation and research of Heritages said that it had no

   knowledge of the reported discovery.


   In a statement it distributed to the media last Wednesday, the Authority said the licence of

   the Middle Awash Research Team, as the team is refered  to, has been cancelled and the

   Authority has no relationship with it.