By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
After eight years spent studying a 1.8 million-year-old skull uncovered in the republic of Georgia, scientists have made a discovery that may rewrite the evolutionary history of our human genus Homo.
It would be a simpler story with fewer ancestral species. Early, diverse fossils — those currently recognized as coming from distinct species like Homo habilis, Homo erectus and others — may actually represent variation among members of a single, evolving lineage. In other words: just as people look different from one another today, so did early hominids look different from one another, and the dissimilarity of the bones they left behind may have fooled scientists into thinking they came from different species.
In other words, different races existed back in Ye Olde Days, just like today. Of course, that, in turn, raises the question of "What is a race?"
... Dr. Lordkipanidze and his colleagues said the differences between these fossils were no more pronounced that those between any given five modern humans or five chimpanzees. The hominids who left the fossils, they noted, were quite different from one another but still members of one species.