SHAFAQNA – Three fossilized human jaw fragments thought to be between 3.3 and 3.5 million years old – first discovered in 2011 – were unveiled on Wednesday by a group of archaeologists in Ethiopia.
The fragments were found four years ago at the Burtele archeological site in northern Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State.
“The jaw fragments of different sizes, which were unearthed in March 2011, are predated from 3.3 to 3.5 million years ago,” Yohannes Haileselassie, head of the Woranso-Mille Research Project, told a Wednesday press conference.
The discovery – which has been given the name Australopiticus Deyiremeda – includes three human jaw bone fragments replete with teeth.
Ethiopia’s Afar State, where the finds were made, is considered a major archeological site.
According to Yohannes, the fossilized fragments include half of an upper jawbone, half of a lower jawbone and several upper jaw fragments.
“The new fossil is much different from Austropiticus Afarenisis, a four-million-year-old full human skeleton found in the same region,” he said.
“The feature of locomotion, habitat and forage make the latest discovery different from Austropiticus Afarenisis, under which Ethiopia’s most visited fossil, Lucy, had been classified,”he added.
Yohannes said the discovery would help provide a better understanding of human evolution.
“The more we find new fossils, the more we know about the series of human evolution,” he said. “This fossil will add a new face to the human family tree in Ethiopia.”
Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism Amir Abudulkadir, for his part, said the discovery would help promote Ethiopia to the rest of the world.
“We will help researchers who are courageous enough to make further findings,” he asserted.
He went on to note that the Ethiopian government placed considerable emphasis on evolution research, which, he said, had helped ensure Ethiopia’s status as a “cradle of humanity”.