Paranthropus aethiopicus or Australopithecus aethiopicus is an extinct species of hominid, one of the robust australopithecines. The finding discovered in 1985 by Alan Walker in West Turkana, Kenya, is known as the 'Black Skull' due to the dark coloration of the bone, caused by high levels of manganese. Paranthropus aethiopicus is one of the earliest examples of robust pliocene hominids.
2.7 to 2.5 million years ago
'Black Skull', West Turkana, Kenya, Africa
The skull is dated to 2.5 million years ago, older than the later forms of robust australopithecines. Anthropologists suggest that Paranthropus aethiopicus lived between 2.7 and 2.5 million years ago. The features are quite primitive and share many traits with Australopithecus afarensis; thus Paranthropus aethiopicus may be a direct descendant.
Paranthropus aethiopicus is thought to have lived in mixed savanna and woodland, and although little else can be surmised due to the lack of fossil evidence, this species is believed to be on an evolutionary branch of the hominid tree, distinctly diverging from the Homo lineage.