In Photos: A Nearly Complete Human Ancestor Skull
This ancient ancestor looked a lot like the iconic "Lucy."
Nearly perfect specimen
A nearly complete Australopithecus anamensis skull has been unearthed in Ethiopia, and it dates to 3.8 million years ago.
The new skull specimen, dubbed "MRD," allowed anthropologists to put a face to the relative of the iconic "Lucy" species.
Ancient river delta
A view of the skull on one side, along with the reconstructed face on the other.
Ancient river delta
The fossil skull was found in two pieces in an ancient river delta in the Godaya Valley of the Afar region of Ethiopia. The fossil was buried in sand.
Yohannes Haile-Selassie, a paleoanthropologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, uncovered the fossil in February 2016. Here, Haile-Selassi poses with the cranium.
Another view of Haile-Selassie holding the cranium.
Similar to "Lucy"
Australopithecus anamensis had a face that was quite similar to the "Lucy" species, Australopithecus afarensis, but with some key differences.
The hominin's face was not quite as massive and rugged as Lucy's, but it had larger teeth than A. afarensis. MRD's jaw protruded, which is different from the relatively flat faces of modern apes.
Size of a chimpanzee
The ancient hominin would have been about the size of a chimpanzee.
Another view of the ancient fossil cranium.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.