In a remarkable evolutionary windfall, fossil hunters have discovered neatly fitting halves of a nearly complete, 3.8-million-year-old hominid skull.

This unexpected specimen shines some light on poorly understood, early members of the human evolutionary family.Science News

The East African skull, which turned up at Ethiopia’s Woranso-Mille site, has been classified as Australopithecus anamensis. It is the oldest known species in a hominid genus that includes Australopithecus afarensis, known best for Lucy’s 3.2-million-year-old partial skeleton (SN: 10/28/14).

“This specimen provides the first glimpse of the face of Australopithecus anamensis,” Haile-Selassie said during an Aug. 27 news conference. The skull, which is slightly larger than a modern adult human’s fist, also includes the first good example of an A. anamensis braincase.

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