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Origins of Humankind
The Hominid Family Tree

Orrorin tugenensis
(6 mya)

Ardipithecus ramidus
(4.4 mya)

Australopithecus anamensis
(4.2 to 3.9 mya)

Australopithecus afarensis
(3.6 to 2.9 mya)

Kenyanthropus platyops
(3.5 to 3.3 mya)

Australopithecus africanus
(3 to 2 mya)

Australopithecus aethiopicus
(2.7 to 2.3 mya)

Australopithecus garhi
(2.5 mya)

Australopithecus boisei
(2.3 to 1.4 mya)

Homo habilis
(2.3 to 1.6 mya)

Homo erectus
(1.8 to 0.3 mya)

Australopithecus robustus
(1.8 to 1.5 mya)

Homo heidelbergensis
(600 to 100 tya)

Homo neanderthalensis
(250 to 30 tya)

Homo sapiens
(100 tya to present)

mya = millions of years ago        tya = thousands of years ago


Kenyanthropus platyops (3.5 to 3.3 million years ago)

Species Description:

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 years later.

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.

Indeed, 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.

Fossil Finds:

Flat-faced Man (debated)

Flat-faced Man (debated)
Estimated age: 3.5 million years
Date of discovery: 1999
Location: Lake Turkana, Kenya

A mixture of primitive and modern traits characterize the two partial skulls some scientists attribute to this species. These traits include small ear canals like those of Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus anamensis and a flattened face and small teeth like Homo rudolfensis.

-> Go to Australopithecus africanus

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