Fossil skulls rewrite the stories of two ancient human ancestors
Found in a hilltop cave, the oldest known Homo erectus and Paranthropus robustus fossils shed light on a critical period of hominin evolution.
In the winter of 2015, Jesse Martin and Angeline Leece were extracting what they thought were baboon remains from a piece of rock. The two students at La Trobe University in Australia were part of an expedition to collect and study fossils from the Drimolen quarry northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. As they cleaned the skull fragments and pieced them back together, however, they realized the fossils did not come from a baboon, but instead comprised the braincase of a young Homo erectus, a species never before identified in South Africa.
“I don’t think our supervisors believed us until they came over to have a look,” Martin recalls.
The braincase was described in the journal Science today, together with the