THE JAWS OF DESTINY

A 2.3 MILLION-YEAR-OLD FOSSIL FROM ETHIOPIA EXTENDS THE AGE OF THE HUMAN FAMILY LINE 400,000 YEARS

The arid badlands of northern Ethiopia's Hadar region have long been a fossil-hunter's paradise. It was there, two decades ago, that paleontologists unearthed the celebrated Lucy, a primitive ancestor of modern humans dating back more than 3 million years. On this trip, though, an international team of scientists was on the trail of something less ancient but much more mysterious. Somewhere between 2 million and 3 million years ago, experts believe, Lucy's descendants had evolved into true humans. But despite decades of searching, scientists had yet to find a single well-dated fossil that showed how, why or precisely when this fateful...

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