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"Jonny's Child": Homo habilis (Circa 2,400,000 BCE – 1,400,000 BCE)

Fragmented part of a lower mandible (which still holds thirteen teeth, as well as unerupted wisdom teeth). (Click on image to view larger.)

Olduvai Gorge.

Artist rendition of Homo Habilis. (Click on image to view larger.)

Louis Leakey.

Mary Leakey.

Between 1960 and 1963 a team led by scientists Louis and Mary Leakey uncovered the fossilized remains of a unique early human at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The type specimen, OH 7, found by Jonathan Leakey, was nicknamed "Jonny's child". Because this early human had a combination of features different from those seen in Australopithecus, Louis Leakey, South African scientist Philip Tobias, and British scientist John Napier called these remains a new species— Homo habilis, meaning ‘handy man', as they suspected that this slightly larger-brained early human made the thousands of stone tools found at Olduvai Gorge.