Toumai in the hotseat

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Hey, I never said it was a vulgar ape…

A fresh storm has broken out over an ancient fossil presented by its defenders as a forebear of humanity and dismissed by its critics as the remains of a vulgar chimp. Controversy has swirled around Toumai, the name given to the nearly-complete skull, ever since it was found in the Chadian desert in 2001.
But the man who discovered Toumai, Alain Beauvilain, of the University of Paris at Nanterre, has now publicly challenged [its 7-million-year-old date] estimate.

This really isn’t a very well-written story (it refers to “carbon dating” the remains, for instance). I suppose that if Beauvilain is correct, the true date should likely be younger, but that doesn’t really affect anyone’s interpretation of the skull. The only practical effect: If we were to assume it’s a hominin (which I don’t), then a younger date would reduce the apparent discrepancy with the relatively recent genetic divergence between hominins and chimpanzees.