'New species' of possible human relative found in Ethiopia

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'New Species' of Possible Human Relative Found in Ethiopia

Researchers in Ethiopia have found remains that could belong to a new species of ancient human ancestors, according to findings published this week in the journal Nature.

Around three million years ago, a distant human ancestor called Australopithecus deyiremeda walked the Earth. Most have heard of this species because of our ape-like ancestor "Lucy."

This newly discovered remains belonged to what some are now calling Lucy's neighbor.

"The find suggests that several distinct hominids — species more closely related to humans than to chimps — roamed eastern Africa more than 3 million years ago," Nature explains. "A third species ... lived in what is now Kenya around the same time."

But the big question paleontologists are now asking is which of these species gave rise to the existing "Homo" genus.

Until recently most scientists believed that was Lucy, who lived roughly 3.5 million years ago. Her remains were found in 1974, and she was thought to be the matriarch or our family tree.

The remains of the new species were found about 20 miles from where Lucy's were. As The Verge notes, the research about whether or not this is a new species is inconclusive, and it may turn out that the newly-discovered remains belong to the same species. There's a possibility that could be a male as opposed to a female. Should we call him Luke?

Researchers say more fossils need to be found to further understand how we came to be.

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