Monday, August 2, 2010

Australopithecus Anamensis

Australopithecus anamensis was a species of hominid that inhabited east Africa approximately four million years ago. Nearly one hundred fossil specimens are known from Kenya and Ethiopia, representing over 20 individuals. The first fossilized specimen of the species was a single arm bone found in Pliocene strata in the Kanapoi region of East Lake Turkana by a Harvard University research team in 1965. The specimen was tentatively assigned at the time to Australopithecus and dated about four million years old.

In 1995, Meave Leakey and her associates, taking note of differences between Australopithecus afarensis and the new finds, assigned them to a new species, A. anamensis, deriving its name from the Turkana word anam, meaning "lake". Leakey determined that this species was independent of many others. It does not represent an intermediate species of any type. In 2006, a new A. anamensis find was officially announced, extending the range of A. anamensis into north east Ethiopia. These new fossils, sampled from a woodland context, include the largest hominid canine tooth yet recovered and the earliest Australopithecus femur.