"Toumai" (of the species Sahelanthropus tchadensis
) is around 7 million years old and is considered by some paleontologists to be the first representative of the human lineage.
On a dig in central Africa, a French paleontologist's team discovered the head bone and jaw of Sahelanthropus tchadensis
, a 'hominid' or human-like creature that would have existed seven million years ago.
"This is the case for early hominin species such as Sahelanthropus tchadensis
, which shows a forward shift of the foramen magnum but has aroused some controversy as to whether it is more closely related to humans or African apes." Ee Ee Ee
9:15 PHYLOGENETIC RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE UPPER MOLARS OF SAHELANTHROPUS TCHADENSIS
AND LATE MIOCENE HOMINOIDS AND HOMINIDS **.
Anthropologists working in Chad describe a fossil skull more than 6 million years old of Sahelanthropus tchadensis
, which maybe the oldest known human ancestral species (7/13/02,p.
Other possible contenders for the earliest proto-human fossil are Sahelanthropus tchadensis
, a skull found in Chad (Brunet et al., 2002), from about 6-7 mya with a puzzling mixture of features making it difficult to classify, and Orrorin tugenensis (Senut et al., 2001) just below 6 million years old, found in Kenya.
A more recently identified hominid genus and species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis
, may have lived 7 million years ago.
Because the skull resembled no known species, the discoverers classified it in a new genus and species, naming it Sahelanthropus tchadensis
. But the fossil is nicknamed Toumai, meaning "hope of life" in a Chadian language.
Toumai - of the newly dubbed species Sahelanthropus tchadensis
- could be as much as 1m years older than previously found hominid fossils, and at least 3m years older than the next-oldest hominid skulls.