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It's the equivalent of finding that your grandmother and great-grandmother were sisters rather than mother-daughter, said study co-author Fred Spoor, a professor of evolutionary anatomy at the University College in London.
The paper is based on fossilized bones found in 2000. The complete skull of Homo erectus was found within walking distance of an upper jaw of Homo habilis, and both dated from the same general time period. That makes it unlikely that Homo erectus evolved from Homo habilis, researchers said.