The discovery of a complete 1.8 million-years-old skull has rewritten the story of how modern man evolved from our early ancestors in Africa, according to Swiss scientists.
A skull found in Georgia from an ancient human ancestor, known as Skull 5, implies that all Homo species were once one.
Research suggests that the earliest members of the Homo genus, including Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus belonged to the same species and simply looked different to each other, shaking up the classification system for early human ancestors.
It is popularly thought that different characteristics among the Homo fossils showed they were distinct, different species but this research casts this theory into doubt.
Scientists from the Anthropological Institute and Museum in Zurich say Skull 5 indicates that rather than several ecologically specialised Homo species, a single Homo species that was able to cope with a variety of ecosystems, emerged from Africa some two million years ago.
They studied the skull that was unearthed in Dmanisi, Georgia and found that unlike other Homo fossils, Skull 5 combines a small braincase with a long face and large teeth.
It was discovered alongside the remains of four other early human ancestors, a variety of animal fossils and some stone tools, all of which are associated with the same location and time period which makes the find truly unique.
The site, which has only been partially excavated, is providing scientists with the first opportunity to compare and contrast the physical traits of multiple human ancestors that apparently coexisted at the same time in the same geological space. see more