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Was Homo erectus More Like Baboons Than Chimps?

Friday, October 25, 2013

dmanisi-skull-homo-erectusDMANISI, GEORGIA—Science writer Carl Zimmer writes in the New York Times that, if the analysis of the skull found at the site of Dmanisi in Georgia is correct, the early hominin Homo erectus might have been behaviorally more like a baboon than a chimpanzee, the ape that is the closest genetic relative to humans. If all early hominins of about two million years ago were just variations of Homo erectus, as the Dmanisi skull suggests, then that species had remarkable range, showing up not only in Africa, but in Eurasia and Indonesia, as well. A similar range of adapatability is seen in baboons, who can survive in deserts or forests and interbreed when they encounter another group.