A 1.8-million-year-old skull unearthed in Dmansis, Georgia, represents the most complete early Homo skull ever found, a team of scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science.
The skull, referred to as “Skull 5,” comes from the same time period and place as four other skulls found earlier at Dmanisi, but has some unique features — a small braincase (about one-third the size of modern humans) and large face with a protruding jaw and big teeth.
Researchers believe all five skulls come from the same Homo species, even though the creatures that left behind the skulls looked different from each other. This is different from how scientists have traditionally classified human fossils — lumping those with the same physical traits into the same species (read more on why this skull is so special here).
The individuals found at Dmanisi all belong to the species Homo erecutus, scientists say. In general, the creatures had long legs and short arms.
“Skeletal bones found with the skulls, including Skull 5, show that although these humans were short in stature, they had modern body proportions and could walk long distances,” according to Science Magazine’s Ann Gibbons.
This artist’s reconstruction of the early human that left behind Skull 5 depicts a small brain and protruding jaw.
And here’s Skull 5:
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