Fact Files: Homo habilis: (HOM-oh HA-bill-iss)

Meaning: 'Handy man'.

Lived: 2.2 - 1.6 million years ago.

Range: Eastern and southern Africa.

Diet: Omnivorous diet.

Size: M: 131cm / 37kg F: 100cm / 32 kg.

Brain Size: 47% the size of a modern brain.

Homo habilis spies a prime animal carcass in the distance
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Skull

Description | Evidence

Homo habilis seems to have used crude stone tools known as Oldowan tools to scavenge meat from animal carcasses.

This kickstarted an increase in brain size. Meat, particularly bone marrow, contains long-chain fatty acids that are essential for brain growth.

Homo habilis is known from a variety of scattered remains across East Africa. The species is known from a juvenile skull called OH7 found in 1960 at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania by Louis Leakey.

Hand bones found with this skull suggest a precision grip, a finger and thumb formation that would have allowed habilis to strike stones accurately to make tools. A partial foot skeleton, also from Olduvai Gorge, known as OH8 shows a completely modern type of bipedalism.

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