Two-million-year-old skull of human’s “cousin species” unearthed in South Africa

Australian researchers claim to have discovered a two-million-year-old skull in South Africa throws more light on human evolution.

The skull was a male Paranthropus robustus, a “cousin species” to Homo erectus, a species thought to be direct ancestors of modern humans.

The two species lived around the same time, but Paranthropus robustus died out earlier.

The research team described the find as exciting.

The researchers, from Melbourne’s La Trobe University, found the skull’s fragments in 2018 at the Drimolen archaeological site north of Johannesburg.

It was uncovered just metres away from a spot where a similarly aged Homo erectus skull of a child was discovered in 2015.

Archaeologists then spent the past few years piecing together and analysing the fossil. Their findings were published in the Nature, Ecology and Evolution journal on Tuesday.

Archaeologists used plastic straws to suck the last traces of dirt off them.

It is thought that three hominins species lived in South Africa at the same time in competition with each other.