By Claire

A new species of human: One of several co-existing in Africa two million years ago

A recent paper published in Nature claims to have found evidence of another species of human ancestor.

While this species (Homo rudolfensis – although the official name is still under debate) was previously known to scientists, following a skull that was found in 1972, scientists had been unsure whether it represented a new species, or just an unusual specimen.

With the discovery of the three new fossils (a face and two jawbones with teeth) researchers can say with more certainty that H.rudolfensis really was a separate type of human that existed around two million years ago alongside other species of humans.

This discovery challenges the linear concept of human evolution, from apes to humans as we know them now.

“Humans seem to have been evolving in different ways in different regions. It was almost as if nature was developing different human prototypes with different attributes, only one of which, an ancestor of our species, was ultimately successful in evolutionary terms,” said Dr Leakey, of the Turkana Basin Institute in Nairobi, who led the research.

This discovery reinforces the evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest, whereby a number of new traits and species evolve, but only the strongest, and most adapted survive.

Read more from the National Geographic web page.