Comparative biomolecular studies suggest that the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, lived during the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene1,2. Fossil evidence of Late Miocene-Early Pliocene hominid evolution is rare and limited to a few sites in Ethiopia 3,4,5, Kenya6 and Chad7. Here we report new Early Pliocene hominid discoveries and their palaeoenvironmental context from the fossiliferous deposits of As Duma, Gona Western Margin (GWM), Afar, Ethiopia. The hominid dental anatomy (occlusal enamel thickness, absolute and relative size of the first and second lower molar crowns, and premolar crown and radicular anatomy) indicates attribution to Ardipithecus ramidus. The combined radioisotopic and palaeo-magnetic data suggest an age of between 4.51 and 4.32 million years for the hominid finds at As Duma. Diverse sources of data (sedimentology, faunal composition, ecomorphological variables and stable carbon isotopic evidence from the palaeosols and fossil tooth enamel) indicate that the Early Pliocene As Duma sediments sample a moderate rainfall woodland and woodland/grassland.
ASJC Scopus subject areas