KNM-WT 40000, Kenyanthropus platyops

KNM-WT 40000

Discovered by Justus Erus, a member of a team led by Meave Leakey, in 1999 at Lomekwi in Kenya (Leakey et al. 2001, Lieberman 2001). Estimated age is between 3.5 and 3.2 million years. This is a mostly complete cranium which came in two pieces: a skullcase which was heavily distorted, and a face which was much better preserved. The fossil has an unusual combination of characteristics, most notably a broad flat face and small teeth. The name Kenyanthropus platyops means "Flat faced man of Kenya". The brain size is similar to that of australopithecines.

This fossil has considerable similarities with, and is possibly related to, the habiline fossil ER 1470.

Tim White (2003) has claimed that this fossil is so severely distorted that it cannot be reliably identified, and that it may merely be a Kenyan version of Australopithecus afarensis.

This photo of WT 40000 and ER 1470 is from Lieberman 2001:

WT 40000 and ER 1470


Leakey M.G., Spoor F., Brown F., Gathogo P.N., Kiarie C., Leakey L.N. et al. (2001): New hominin genus from eastern Africa shows diverse middle Pliocene lineages. Nature, 410:433-40.

Lieberman D.E. (2001): Another face in our family tree. Nature, 410:419-20.

White T.D. (2003): Early hominids - diversity or distortion? Science, 299:1994-7.


The Kenyanthropus page

The flat faced man of Kenya, from Nature

Not another (yawn) 'ape-man', by Carl Wieland (a creationist response)

New Hominid Skull from Kenya, by Marvin Lubenow (a creationist response)

This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the Archive.

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