Fifty years of Homo habilis

The first human species – or was it?

Fifty years ago, the British anthropologist Louis Leakey and two colleagues reported the discovery of a new human species, Homo habilis (‘handy man’), in the journal Nature. Homo habilis lived at least 1.9 million years ago and remains the earliest-known widely-recognised human species to this day. The new species was described from fossils recovered at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania between 1960 and 1964, but the story of its discovery began more than three decades earlier in 1931, when Leakey first investigated this now world-famous site. Continue reading