Retrieving the past

The Denakil desert of Eritrea in Africa has turned out to be another exploration site for human fossils. In December last year, a team of Eritrean and Italian scientists led by Ernesto Abbate from the University of Florence in Italy, recovered well- preserved parts of a two-million- year-old human fossil (Science, Vol 271, No 5245).

The team is quite certain that this is the first ever fossil of a hominid to be recovered in the region. "We have recovered a very large part of the skull, part of a pelvis and a finger bone," says Abbate. But, it is still not clear whether it is Homo erectus or a precursor to humankind.