Toumai in the hotseat

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.
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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.