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The genus Homo followed the Australopithecus, where a great amount of brain expansion was observed(1).
The believed tool making capabilities of this particular species is the reasoning behind its species name of "habilis," which means "handy man."

HOMO HABILIS lived from about

2.4 to 1.5 million years ago, and is the earliest known species to show novel differences from the chimpanzee and australopithid skulls.


face is still primitive and projecting, but the jaw is pulled under the brain, with smaller molars (though still much larger than in modern humans), and the skull is thinner, with a distinctive rounded shape, vertical sides and a small forehead above the brows. The first humans have arrived on the scene.

Homo habilis was shorter than

modern humans. It did not reach much more than four feet tall, but its arms were longer in proportion to its body.
It had small teeth and a protruding


Homo habilis had a brain that was

about twice as big as the brains of the Australopithecines but much smaller than the brains of modern humans.
Males were much larger than


The first Homo habilis fossils were discovered by Mary and Louis Leaky in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, East Africa in the early 1960s. Since then, other fossils have been found in Olduvai Gorge as well as near Lake Turkana in Kenya, and in South Africa and China.

Homo habilis lived in social groups and made tools using stone flakes. When Homo habilis was alive, Olduvai Gorge was a large saltwater lake. It was full of fish and the surrounding area was teeming with animal life, It ate fruit and plants as well as meat.

Campsites containing Homo habilis remains have been found around the lake. These campsites also contain animal bones that look as if they have been broken intentionally. Some have cut marks made by stone tools that were cutting away the meat.

Stone tools, known as Oldowan tools, and cut bones have also been found in other places where Homo habilis fossils have been found. Homo habilis probably used tools for scavenging rather than for hunting. It used tools to pick meat off animals that had already been killed by predators and to extract marrow from animal bones.

Unknown to non-Africans before

the colonial period, the prehistory of the interior of Africa has since been partly pieced together.

Discovered by chance in 1910 by a

German entomologist who stumbled across some fossils and bones, evidence of human life was found in Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge and the place attracted the attention of Professor Leakey and his wife, whose names are forever linked to the site.

Their research started in 1931 but it

was not until 1959 that Mary Leakey found fragments of teeth and a skull which were part of a male hominid whom they called Zinjanthropus or Nutcracker Man, because of his huge teeth.

The skull was dated to be 1.75 to 2

million years old and was proof that hominids inhabited the area;

it shifted the centre of human

evolution from Asia to Africa and the discovery 20 years later of footprints at Laetoli south of Olduvai pushed back the presence of hominids to 3.5 to 4 million years.



of ancient hominids are typically presented with no explanation of the principles on which the various bones are reassembled.


Timothy Bromage is a paleoanthropologist who works on the biological principle "that the eyes, ears, and mouth must be in precise relationship to one another in all mammals."


claims to have found a rule that applies to all primates: "The angle created by drawing a line from the eye socket to the ear and then to the top back molar is always 45 degrees".


this to Homo rudolfensis (1470 Man) has challenged the previously accepted work.
the skull bones to conform to the rule pushes out the lower face and leads to a much smaller brain: about 575 cubic centimetres" instead of 750-775 cc



Leakey produced a biased reconstruction based on erroneous preconceived expectations of early human appearance that violated principles of craniofacial development," said Dr. Bromage.


new reconstruction "shows a sharply protruding jaw and a brain less than half the size of a modern human". The first human-like skulls come with Homo ergaster and Homo erectus.


is exactly where many put the ape/homo line, and this new work reinforces the view that the gradualist model of human evolution is artificial and an imposition on the data.