Researchers have unearthed a new species of ancient human in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
The study, published in the journal Nature, says the research team discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3 million and 3.5 million years old.
It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.
The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means “close relative” in the language spoken by the Afar people.
The ancient remains are thought to belong to four individuals, who would have had both ape and human-like features.
The age of the remains means that this was potentially one of four different species of early humans that were all alive at the same time.
The most famous of these is Australopithecus afarensis – known as Lucy – who lived between 2.9 million and 3.8 million years ago, and was initially thought to be our direct ancestor.
However, the discovery of another species called Kenyanthropus platyops in Kenya in 2001, and of Australopithecus bahrelghazali in Chad, and now Australopithecus deyiremedaI, suggests that there were several species co-existing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has topped the US and Canada box office, taking $65 million from August 8 to 10, according to studio estimates.
Paramount, the studio behind the action movie, immediately announced plans for a sequel, which will be released in 2016.
Paramount’s Megan Colligan said the movie’s success was due to two different groups – those who remembered the original 1980s and 90s franchise and children who watched the recent Nickelodeon cartoon series.
“It’s odd when you have 25 to 35-year-olds and then seven to 12-year-olds really excited about the same film,” Megan Colligan said.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has topped the US and Canada box office, taking $65 million
“The teen audience was actually the one that wasn’t as familiar with the property, so we put a lot of focus on teens.”
Guardians of the Galaxy dropped to second place, taking $41.5 million.
Into the Storm, starring Richard Armitage, took third place with $18 million.
Disney drama The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, was fourth with $11.1 million.
Scarlett Johansson’s action thriller Lucy has topped the North American box office with $44 million over the weekend.
Lucy is about a woman who unlocks hitherto untapped brain powers.
Fantasy movie Hercules had to settle for an estimated $29 million between Friday and Sunday.
The film’s distributor Paramount said the takings equaled expectations.
Directed by France’s Luc Besson, Lucy tells the story of a woman who can move objects with her mind after a drug causes her brain to operate at abnormally high levels.
Hercules sees Dwayne Johnson take on the role of the fabled Greek demigod, previously played on screen by Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others.
Scarlett Johansson’s action thriller Lucy has topped the North American box office with $44 million over the weekend
Brett Ratner’s movie performed far more strongly than The Legend of Hercules, another outing for the character that could only muster $8.6 million when it opened in US cinemas in January.
Overall North American box office takings are still down around 20% compared to last year’s record summer.
It is hoped Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest comic book fantasy from the Marvel stable, will reverse the trend when it opens in cinemas later this week.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, last week’s box office champ, fell two places to three with third weekend takings of $16.4 million.
That was enough to rank it above thriller sequel The Purge: Anarchy and Disney’s Planes: Fire and Rescue, both of which were also down two places on last week’s placing.
Two other new entries enjoyed more limited success than Lucy and Hercules, with both making their debuts outside of this week’s top five.
And So It Goes, a romantic comedy starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, opened at eight with first weekend takings of $4.6 million, while A Most Wanted Man made its bow at 10 with a $2.7 million tally.
North American box office Top 5:
Lucy – $44 million
Hercules – $29 million
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $16.4 million
The Purge: Anarchy – $9.9 million
Fire & Rescue – $9.3 million [youtube MVt32qoyhi0 650]