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K. Kris Hirst

Human Ancestors You Should Know: Toumaï

By November 26, 2012

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The oldest possible human ancestor yet identified is Toumaï, known as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, who was collected from the Toros-Menalla locality of Chad, considerably west of the Rift Valley, where most of our ancient hominid ancestors have been discovered.

Toumai - Sahelanthropus tchadensis
Cast of the Toumaï skull, taken at a conference by Michel Brunet at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, 10 September 2008. Photo by Ludovic Péron

Toumaï died 7 million years ago, and his skull is the most complete Miocene ape yet discovered. With some debatable characteristics similar to the much-younger Australopithecenes (including possible bipedal locomotion), Toumaï is definitely a human ancestor you should know.

Comments

November 27, 2012 at 7:46 am
(1) Crystal says:

I am so totally facsinated by history, I wish I was like this when I was in school becaus I would have been a totally different person today. Anyway, 7 MILLION years ago this species died??? SEVEN MILLION years ago??
I have a real problem with carbon dating. How do we know it’s right? We as people created this technique, but who’s to say it’s right? We find structures, ruins actually, and they speculate the age, that is all. There is no definitive proof that these structures were constructed 30 000 years ago. I have read much about stone NOT being able to be carbon dated, and yet they estimate the age of stone structures being thousands of years old. i just don’t get it. I watch shows like Ancient Aliens, and although I believe a lot of it, some of it is just too out there to believe. Not the alien aspect, but when they date things. I could go on forever because i have millions of questions and ideas, but I am NOT convinced that carbon dating is accurate and true.
Thanks for ‘listening’, Crystal in Ontario Canada.

November 27, 2012 at 7:57 am
(2) Kris Hirst says:

Hi Crystal:

I’m not sure that anything I’m going to say will convince you: but here’s what scientists currently understand about radiocarbon dating:

Introduction to Radiocarbon Dating
Calibrating Radiocarbon

Of course, you are right: stones are not dated by radiocarbon dating, which uses organic matter, but there are lots of other methods that have been developed over the past sixty years or so:

A Short Course in Archaeological Dating

Science is tough, it asks a lot of the layperson: you have to work through the arguments yourself and make your own decisions.

Thanks for asking!

Kris

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