Washington: A newly discovered 3-foot tall human (Homo gautengensis) has been declared as the earliest recognized species of human in the world.
The new human is believed to have emerged over 2 million years ago and died out approximately 600,000 years ago. Scientists say it arose earlier than Homo habilis, aka "Handy Man."
Darren Curnoe, who led the project, said Homo gautengensis was "small-brained" and "large-toothed," reports Discovery News.
According to Curnoe, an anthropologist at the University of New South Wales School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, it was "probably an ecological specialist, consuming more vegetable matter than Homo erectus, Homo sapiens, and probably even Homo habilis. It seems to have produced and used stone tools and may even have made fire," since there is evidence for burnt animal bones associated with this human``s remains.
Identification of the new human species was based on partial skulls, several jaws, teeth and other bones discovered on various occasions at South Africa`s Sterkfontein Caves, near Johannesburg.
Curnoe and colleague Phillip Tobias, who is a South African paleoanthropologist, believe Homo gautengensis was just over 3 feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds. It walked on two feet, "but probably spent considerable time in trees, perhaps feeding, sleeping and escaping predators," Curnoe pointed out.
Moreover, it lacked speech and language. Due to these missing abilities, its anatomy, and geological age, the researchers believe it was our close relative, but not necessarily our direct ancestor.
The findings have appeared in a paper accepted for publication in HOMO-Journal of Comparative Human Biology.