Kenyanthropus platyops (3.5 to 3.3 million years ago)
Although Kenyanthropus platyops occupied parts of
Africa at the same time as A. afarensis, K. platyops is quite
distinctive physically and, thus, has been classified not only as a different
species, but belonging to a different genus.
The features that distinguish
K. platyops from A. afarensis include primitive traits like
small ear holes and advanced traits like a relatively flat face and small
molars. K. platyops has been compared most closely with Homo
rudolfensis or Homo habilis, species that lived as many as 1 million
Similarities between these species might be explained in terms of
convergent evolution, in which two distinct groups adapt to similar environmental
conditions in similar ways, or by the possibility of a direct ancestral line
between K. platyops and H. rudolfensis or H. habilis.
some scientists have placed H. rudolfensis specimens in the genus
Kenyanthropus. Others ignore Kenyanthropus as a genus altogether,
placing K. platyops specimens into the genus Australopithecus,
saying that the species is not different enough to warrant its own genus. Until
the species can be substantiated by more fossil evidence, many anthropologists
will continue to withhold judgement on its validity and significance.
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