Georgian scientists on Friday showed off a 1.8 million-year-old skull discovered in the Caucasus nation that researchers say could force a re-evaluation of current theories of human evolution.
The skull – unearthed in the medieval town of Dmanisi some 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Tbilisi – is the first completely preserved skull found from that period.
Along with four other skull samples uncovered at the site, it appears to show that early man was a single species with a wide range of looks rather than several distinct species.
“Today in this skull – and the other Dmanisi samples – we see all the features lumped together in one group that we previously thought identified different groups,” David Lordkipanidze, Georgia’s national museum director, told AFP after a presentation in the capital Tbilisi on Friday.
The collection – which is housed in the vault of Georgia’s national museum – is “the richest collection of hominids in the world from that time”, Lordkipanidze, the lead researcher on the project, said.
“We wanted to share with the Georgian public here what we had found,” he said before allowing a small number of journalists into the vault to see the original skull.
The stunningly well-preserved find has an almost-complete set of teeth and seems more elongated than a normal human skull. …
It’s an interesting statement, one that I’ve heard said about some dinosaurs as well, that bones we have taken to be from different species may actually be variation within the same species.