Shelby: It is called Skull 5 and, according to scientists, it could shake up human history as we know it. Scott Evans takes a closer look at what is being called a superstar fossil.
Scott: From the moment scientists discovered the skull buried under a village in the country of Georgia, they knew they had something applause worthy. One-point-eight million years old, this skull may do nothing less than rewrite the history of man. Jamie Shreeve is the executive science editor for National Geographic.
Jamie Shreeve: It’s an almost perfectly complete skull and because of that, it has a lot of interesting information.
Scott: Skull 5, as its known, belonged to an adult male with a large jutting jaw and a brain case less than half the size of a human today. Four other partial skulls were found with it, dating from the same time but with great variations from each other, the same kind of variations as seen in modern humans.
Shreeve: We don’t call modern human Pygmies and Eskimos different species obviously, and so they think we should not call these things a different species too.
Scott: Like people today, experts say it appears to show that early man was a single species with a wide range of looks rather than several distinct species, meaning instead of many branches in our evolutionary family tree like Homo habilus and Homo ergaster, thought to lead to us. There may have only been one Homo erectus.
Experts say this discovery shows a population of pre-humans of various sizes living at the same time – something scientists hadn’t seen before in such an ancient era. But not all experts agree. Some say Skull 5 could even be a discovery of a new species.
Shreeve: You have to be really careful with this because in paleoanthropology, you are measuring individuals in order to make conclusions about whole populations or whole species.
Scott: Like evolution itself, the understanding of it is a work in progress.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.
Shelby: The site where the skull was found is only partially dug out, so scientists are hoping to find even more clues in the future.