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Discovery reveals we may we more like forebears than thought

A “time capsule” from 1.8 million years ago, located in Dmanisi, Georgia, shows variations among five human skulls from that period that suggest long-debated distinctions about early human development may be overblown.

The differences between the skulls were no more than that seen in modern humans, according to a report today in the journal Science. The findings suggest there may have been only one species of early human in a key period of time when they first began to migrate out of Africa, said David Lordkipanidze, an anthropologist at the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi and the report’s author.

The analysis drew immediate criticism from scientists who said other members of the hominid family -- Homo erectus, Homo habilis, and Homo rudolfensis -- were identified using more than just their skulls. Lordkipanidze said the Dmanisi artifacts offer the earliest known representation outside of Africa of human development after the migration.

“Dmanisi has a uniqueness: it’s a real snapshot in time, a time capsule from 1.8 million years ago,” he said phone call with reporters.

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