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Sahelanthropus tchadensis

Photograph of a Sahelanthropus tchadensis cranium a three-quarter aerial view.

Sahelanthropus tchadensis

AAC Catalogue Number: 2005.1.4

Dating: 6-7 million years ago

Geographic Range: East Africa

Anatomical Features: The foramen magnum is located under the skull compared to its location at the rear of the skull in other quadrupedal primates. This is evidence that Sahelanthropus was bipedal. Relatively flat face with large brow ridges.

Technology Used:  Probably used tools in similar ways as chimpanzees and other apes.

Diet: Large incisors and thicker tooth enamel than chimpanzees suggests a diet of tougher foods.  

Other Info: The morphology of Sahelanthropus tchadensis has puzzled many paleoanthropologists. The flat face is more similar to hominin species dating later than 2 million years ago, but its brain size is more similar to chimpanzees and Australopithecines. 


Description from Bone Clones:

“6-7 MYA. The Sahelanthropus tchadensis skull was discovered by Michael Brunet’s team in Chad in 2001 and described in Nature in 2002. Some suggest that S. tchadensis existed near the time that hominids and apes separated on their evolutionary paths. It could be that this specimen is a representative of an early hominid, predating A. afarensis by 3 to 4 million years; on the other hand, it might be an ancestor of the gorilla. The characteristics of the cranium are a mosaic of hominid-like (short face, the size and shape of the canines), and ape-like (very large brow ridges and small brain case) features.”