The skull is that of a child between three and six years old:
An international team including ASU researcher Gary Schwartz, has unearthed the earliest known skull of Homo erectus, the first of our ancestors to be nearly human-like in their anatomy and aspects of their behavior.Julie Russ, “When three species of human ancestor walked the Earth” at Arizona State University
Hmmm. We heard this “nearly human-like” stuff about the Neanderthals for decades and now we are catching up with all these stories about them braiding string, drawing symbols, and burying their dead. How do we know it’s true this time, as opposed to an artifact of not enough excavation yet?
Years of painstaking excavation at the fossil-rich site of Drimolen, nestled within the Cradle of Humankind (a UNESCO World Heritage site located just 40 kilometers or around 25 miles northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa), has resulted in the recovery of several new and important fossils. The skull, attributed to Homo erectus, is securely dated to be 2 million years old.
Homo erectus cranium from Dimolen, South Africa. Credit Angeline Leece. In a paper published this week in Science, the team of nearly 30 scientists from five countries share details of this skull — the most ancient fossil Homo erectus known — and other fossils from Drimolen and discuss how these new finds are forcing us to rewrite a part of our species’ evolutionary history.
The high-resolution dating of Drimolen’s fossil deposits demonstrates the age of the new skull to pre-date Homo erectus specimens from other sites within and outside of Africa by at least 100,000 to 200,000 years and thus confirms an African origin for the species.Julie Russ, “When three species of human ancestor walked the Earth” at Arizona State University
It confirms an African origin for the species if we don’t find an earlier skull somewhere else. In a field like this, a vast amount of the certainty people can allow themselves is an accident of time: We haven’t yet turned up confuting information. That’s what happened to the Neanderthals. They were the “missing link” until they turned up living pretty much like everyone else.
See also: A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?