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Letters to Nature
Nature 378, 273 - 275 (16 November 1995); doi:10.1038/378273a0

The first australopithecine 2,500 kilometres west of the Rift Valley (Chad)

Michel Brunet *, Alain Beauvilain, Yves Coppens, Emile Heintz§, Aladji H. E. Moutaye & David Pilbeam

*Laboratoire Géobiologie, Biochronologie et Paléontologie humaine, JE 273 MST Faculté des Sciences de I'Université de Poitiers, 86022 Poitiers Cedex, France
Centre National d'Appui à la Recherche (CINAR), BP 1228, N'Djamena, Chad
Chaire de Paléoanthropologie et Préhistoire, Collège de France, 75005 Paris, France
§CNRS, 3 rue Michel Ange, 75794 Paris Cedex 16, France
Direction de Recherches Geologiques et Minieres (DRGM), N'Djamena, Chad
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

THE first sites with Pliocene and Pleistocene mammals west of the Rift Valley in Central Africa in northern Chad were reported in 1959 (ref. 1), and documented the presence of mixed savannah and woodland habitats. Further sites2 and a probable Homo erectus cranio-facial fragment3 were subsequently discovered. In 1993 a survey of Pliocene and Pleistocene formations in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Province of Chad (B.E.T.) led to the discovery of 17 new sites in the region of Bahr el Ghazal (classical Arabic for River of the Gazelles) near Koro Toro. One site, KT12 (15°58'10" N, 18°52'46" E) yielded an australopithecine mandible associated with a fauna biochronologically estimated to be 3.0-3.5 Myr old. Australopithecine species described since 1925 are known from southern Africa and from sites spread along the eastern Rift Valley from Tanzania to Ethiopia (Fig. 1). This new find from Chad, which is most similar in morphology to Australopithecus afarensis 4, documents the presence of an early hominid a considerable distance, 2,500 km, west of the Rift Valley.

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