Homo bodoensis: Has a new human ancestor just been discovered?

A team of scientists claims that they have identified a new “old human ancestor” in Africa, which is causing quite a stir. The so called homosexual bodensis lived in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene about 600,000 years ago. A new study published in the journal Evolutionary anthropology concludes that it is “a direct ancestor of modern humans”.

Dr. Mirjana Roksandic, who led the team of researchers from the University of Winnipeg, argued that until now it was “impossible to talk about human evolution in this time period due to the lack of proper terminology that recognizes human geographical variation.”

In the new study, the researchers re-evaluated existing fossils from Africa and Eurasia all the way back to the Middle Pleistocene period. An article in Daily mail explains that a skull was discovered in 1976 at Bodo D’ar, in the Awash River Valley in Ethiopia, dated to about 600,000 years ago. It belonged to none of them H. heidelbergensis or H. rhodesiensis , but to a whole new species known as H. bodoensis , named after the place where it was discovered.

Discovering a new human ancestor is a big deal, but …

In a press release from the University of Winnipeg, Roksandic stressed that “naming a new species is a big deal” because the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature “only allows name changes under very strictly defined rules.” She explained that the species became extinct about 200,000 years ago, long before modern humans migrated out of Africa. The researcher said the results “will help cut the Gordion node across” and allow a much clearer understanding of the Middle Pleistocene.

The newly discovered “so-called” human ancestor had a short, dense body, which was suitable for saving heat (energy) in colder environments. The males of the species weighed about 140 lb (63.5 kg) and measured about 5 ft 9 (175 cm) tall. The females weighed about 30 lbs (13.6 kg) less and were on average about 5 ft 2 (157.5 cm) tall.

The researchers emphasized that “in the future, most Middle Pleistocene people from Africa and some from Southeastern Europe will be classified as H . bodoensis , while many from the latter continent will be reclassified as Neanderthals. “The newspaper said these terms must be” clear in science to facilitate communication. “The authors insisted that rules” should not be treated as absolute when in conflict with the fossils. ”

Skull of Homo bodoensis.  (Jeffrey H. Schwartz / Evolutionary Anthropology)

Skull of Homo bodoensis. (Jeffrey H. Schwartz / Evolutionary anthropology )

Not everyone buys into the new human ancestor

It claims the research team H. bodoensis lived far and wide in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years. They go so far as to suggest that the species may also have migrated into the eastern Mediterranean. While this “apparently” new species of extinct humans has been named homosexual bodensis, all this is quite controversial according to an article in New scientist .

homosexual bodensis is only “the suggested name” for a group of hominins living in Africa during the Middle Pleistocene. But technically, they are called the Chibans, and they lived in Africa between 770,000 and 126,000 years ago. First, Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London is very skeptical of the claim that the Bodo skull is our direct ancestor.

In 2019, Stinger’s team published a study on the evolution of the human face. This research found that the Bodo skull belonged to a species that had “gone a different evolutionary path to our species”, a conclusion that would contradict the new claims of Roksandic.

The new study claims that the Bodo D'ar skull found in Ethiopia belongs to a new species of ancient human ancestor.  (Ryan Somma / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The new study claims that the Bodo D’ar skull found in Ethiopia belongs to a new species of ancient human ancestor. (Ryan Somma / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

This is a case of Select Your Paper

In conclusion, Professor Stinger says that the Bodo skull does not represent a direct human ancestor. This predominant entanglement of ancient species is known by scientists as “confused in the Middle Pleistocene.” The controversy lies in the complexity of categorizing which fossils belong to which species. Only with this data can one calculate how widespread each species was and how far they spread and mixed with each other, according to Stinger. We, the reader, wonder once again whether a new human ancestor has actually been discovered or not.

Top image: Artist rendering of the so-called “new human ancestor”, Homo bodoensis. Source: Ettore Mazza / University of Winnipeg

By Ashley Cowie

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