C: Paranthropus robustus – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/en:Ditsong_National_Museum_of_Natural_History

A “very rare, very lucky” discovery by Australian researchers working in South Africa may reveal more information about how our earliest human ancestors evolved.

It has recently been revealed that staff from the prestigious La Trobe University in Melbourne working in a region north of Johannesburg in the east of the country two years ago discovered a male Paranthropus robustus skull, a human-like species that lived around the same time as Homo erectus; the species most likely to be a direct ancestor of today’s homo-sapiens.

As a potential “cousin species” to Homo erectus, it has long been thought that that the Paranthropus robustus died out earlier, having struggled to survive.

Most discoveries, rare in themselves, are usually of teeth or minor portions of bone.

This was not the case at the 2018, find at the Drimolen site north of South Africa’s largest city.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Angeline Leece of La Trobe said “Most of the fossil record is just a single tooth here and there so to have something like this is very rare, very lucky.”

It is thought that Paranthropus robustus had strong, large teeth and a smaller brain capacity than its rival Homo erectus, and that the species’ main diet consisted of hard to chew plants in the region.

According to Dr. Leece, “through time, Paranthropus robustus likely evolved to generate and withstand higher forces produced during biting and chewing food that was hard or mechanically challenging to process with their jaws and teeth.”

The find was not publicly known until earlier today when it was included in the Nature, Ecology and Evolution journal

a possible reconstruction of the early human ancestor

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