Homo Habilis

Homo habilis comes from Latin which stands for 'handy man'. Homo habilis is one of the extinct species of Homo and the oldest representative of the human class. Homo habilis lived in parts of Sahara, Africa, probably 2 to 1.5 million years ago. In 1959 and 1960 were discovered the first fossils in Olduvai in northern Tanzania. This discovery was a turning point in pale anthropology, as the oldest known human fossils previously discovered specimens were from Homo erectus in Asia. Many Homo habilis characteristics appear to be intermediate in terms of evolutionary development between Australopithecus the primitive species, and other more advanced Homo species.

The first remains of Homo habilis that were found in Olduvai include a few teeth and a lower jaw, together with fragments of a skull and some bones of the hand. As archeologists discovered more and more specimens in places such as Koobi Fora in northern Kenya, they concluded that this species is very different from the Australopithecus, a primitive species that looked more like monkeys and whose remains were found in many archeological sites in Africa. Along the years, there were found only a few pieces of Homo habilis skeleton. Most of them found in Koobi Fora and Olduvai were grouped by general anatomical similarities with Homo erectus skeleton parts.

For justifying the new creature as Homo and not Australopithecus the discoverers described the increased cranial capacity, the smaller premolars and molars, foot bones similar to humans and the hand bones that suggested the ability to manipulate objects with precision, ability that gave the name of Homo habilis which translates to 'handy man'. In addition, the fossils were found near simple stone tools. All these features predict the anatomy and behavior of Homo erectus and the later people, making Homo habilis extremely important to human evolution, even though he left few traces.