Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory

Issue 26 · Spring 1996

New Australopithecus from Chad

The range and number of species of Australopithecus was increased considerably by the discovery of a jaw in Chad. The jaw was found last year by Dr. Michel Brunet (U/Poitiers) in central Chad Republic and named Australopithecus bahrelghazali after the province in Chad. The name is somewhat confusing, since the main river system -- Bahr el Ghazal -- lies much further east and south of this.

The jaw's owner lived from 3mya to 3.5mya, making it one of the oldest Australopithecines. The teeth were described by Yves Coppens as a "combination of the evolved human trait of molars with the three-root teeth typical of chimpanzees and other apes."

David Pilbeam added that this one also had fair-sized canines. And that its presence in Chad showed a characteristic of normal wide-ranging animals, speciation in a large region. No one mentioned any peculiar traits that would suggest that this was close to the line that developed Homo habilis and us. (Sources: THE BOSTON GLOBE, May 21, 1996, p.2. And David Pilbeam personal communication. He also had remarks in NATURE in January.)

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(c) 1996 Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory