In 2005, researchers discovered a remarkably complete ancient hominin skull at Dmanisi, Georgia, a site that holds the earliest human ancestors found outside of Africa. Dated to about 1.8 million years ago, the skull, shown partly excavated, preserves delicate parts of the face that are rare in other fossils. As reported online today in Science, this ancient man had some strikingly primitive features, including a small brain and protruding jaw. But other details mark him as a member of the species Homo erectus, and as one of our ancestors. Researchers are calling the find an iconic new fossil. Combined with four skulls found earlier at Dmanisi, the skull suggests that ancient individuals from one time and place could be very different from each other.
For an in-depth news story on this find, plus a slideshow and an artist’s reconstruction of the hominin, check out Science’s full coverage.