Scientists Find Homo Erectus Skull
TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ Archaeologists in the former Soviet republic of Georgia have unearthed a skull they say is 1.8 million years old and part of a find that holds that oldest traces of humankind’s closest ancestors ever found in Europe.
The Homo erectus skull was found earlier this month about 100 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tbilisi, in the same area where a jawbone believed to be the same age was found in 1991, Georgian National Museum director David Lotkipanidze, who took part in the dig, said by telephone.
Lotkipanidze said that the skull, which was unearthed on Sunday and sent to the museum for further study, was in the best condition of any of the five bone fragments that have been found in the area, called Dmanisi, in recent years.
``Practically all the remains have been found in one place. This indicates that we have found a place of settlement of primitive people,″ he said of the spot, where archaeologists have been working since 1939.
The findings in Georgia, which researchers said were a million years older than any widely accepted pre-human remains in Europe, have provided additional evidence that Homo erectus left Africa a half-million years or more earlier than scientists had previously thought.
Million-year-old fossils of hominids _ extinct creatures of the extended ancestral family of modern humans _ have been found in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, but not in Western Europe. Georgia is south of the Caucasus Mountains and northeast of Turkey, but is considered part of Europe.