Thursday, February 28, 2008

Toumai is 7 Million Years Old

The Toumai fossil, otherwise known as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, has been verified as being between 6.8 and 7.2 million years old. The other argument that is raging is whether or not Toumai really is a hominid. The story notes:

"The radiochronological data concerning Sahelanthropus tchadensis ... is an important cornerstone both for establishing the earliest stages of hominid evolution and for new calibrations of the molecular clock," [Michel] Brunet wrote in a study which will appear in the March 4 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

If Toumai really is that old, it pushes the split date for humans and chimpanzees back to at least 8 mya and implies that it happened pretty fast, in evolutionary terms.

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