|If Orrorin tugenensis is truly a hominid as its
discoverers describe it, the species is by far the oldest-known member
of the family to which humans belong. In fact, at 6 million years old,
O. tugenensis lived near the time when genetic analyses suggest our
oldest hominid ancestor split from the oldest ancestor of the great
apes. This means that there's a chance O. tugenensis could be the
proverbial "missing link" -- or at least one of them.
Certain features, like the teeth of O. tugenensis, suggest this
species could even be more closely related to Homo sapiens than the many
Australopithecus species it predates. Like our molars, the molars of O.
tugenensis were small compared to any of the australopithecine teeth.
Their teeth also had very thick enamel like ours.
Grooves in the femurs of O. tugenensis, presumably points where
muscles and ligaments attached, suggest that the species was bipedal.
Unfortunately, much about this species, including the suggested close
relationship between it and Homo sapiens, is extremely speculative and
Origins of Humankind