Toumai Skull

In 2008 it has been discovered the oldest hominid species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Toumai skull was uncovered in 2001 in Rift Valley, in Chad by Michel Brunet, a professor at the 'College de France.' The professor introduced the skull in 2005 and stated that it is the oldest representative of humanity, dating seven million years ago. Many paleontologists have questioned this statement and considered it more like a gorilla ancestor as from the back of the skull it looks more like an ape’s cranium and from the front, the skull approaches to the features of an Australopithecus.

Brunet wanted a confirmation of the age 'of the human of Tomai', so researchers at the 'French National Scientific Research Center have used beryllium 10, a radioactive isotope of beryllium, a metal, which established precisely as the human of Toumai is aged 7.04 million years. This period of time is known to be the one in which hominids and chimps were detached from the common ancestor on the evolutionary scale and the discovery is at least eight million years ago. The absolute dating method which is used in paleontology is carbon 14, but this can only determine the age of up to 50,000 years.

The skull has been discovered without any traces of other bones from the body so researchers do not have an idea on whether the Toumai human was biped or not. This can be found by observing the location of the foramen magnum which is the whole in the cranium in which the spinal cord goes. The skull is very old and so, researchers have encountered many difficulties in forming a decision whether it is a hominid or an ape ancestor as the cranium had clearly suffered severe postmortem distortions and they could not determine an exact position or shape of the foramen magnum to specify if the Toumai was bipedal or not.