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While we now know that they are fraudulent, at the time (1911) they seemed to demonstrate quite clearly that early humans had a modern was the reverse of a movement that occurred in the late Miocene, when the ancestors of the African apes migrated from Eurasia into Africa.
Here they underwent another adaptive radiation, culminating in the divergence of ancestral chimp and hominid populations from their last common ancestor, 7 million years ago.
This is very close indeed to the likely human-chimpanzee split.
Michel Brunet's team describe Sahelanthropus as a hominid, for reasons including the shape and angle of the face and skull, and its dentition.
Lowered sea levels 17 - 16.5 million years ago provided a land bridge between Africa and Eurasia, and some of these early apes used it to enter Eurasia, along with elephants, pigs and antelopes, and rodents.
Our view of our evolutionary past has changed as social attitudes have changed.
Not all scientists agree with this, saying that the position of the suggests it was not a true biped, and that features of its dentition and skull are reminiscent of chimpanzees.
However, a recent reconstruction of the cranium (Zollikofer et al., 2005) places the foramen magnum well under the skull, suggesting Sahelanthropus was indeed bipedal. also suggest that comparisons of the reconstructed cranium with those of both modern apes and other fossil hominins demonstrate that it belongs on the hominin lineage, although other researchers disagree with this interpretation.
would be better placed in Australopithecus - an example of how rapidly our understanding of our evolutionary past is changing, and of the reviews, discussion and disagreements that characterise scientific research.
The best-known member of this species is "Lucy" , discovered in 1974 by Don Johanson & Tom Gray and estimated to be around 3.2 million years old (afarensis lived from 3.9 to 3 million years ago).