Kenyanthropus Platyops

<em>Kenyanthropus platyops</em>

Kenyanthropus platyops skull: type specimen KNM-WT-40,000.  Photo courtesy of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility

<em>Kenyanthropus platyops</em>

Reconstruction of Kenyanthropus.  Photo courtesy of Bradshaw Foundation

 

The announcement in 2001 of the discovery of Kenyanthropus platyops created quite a stir.  Dating to 3.5 - 3.2 MYA, this species would have been contemporary with Lucy (add specimen number), but Maeve Leakey believed it was so distinct from that famous hominid that she not only assigned a new species to her find, but a new genus as well.  Citing its flat face, tall cheekbones, and small molars, Leakey emphasize the combination of features found in this specimen did place it well outside the range of variation expected in the Australopithecus family—a decision that now creates the possibility of two hominid lines to compete for the place of Homo sapiens’ ancestor.  Noting the similarities between platyops and Australopithecus rudolfensis, some now suggest that the former was the predecessor of the latter, which would further the claim of a separate lineage.