Dr Anne Dambricourt-Malassé is a palaeoanthropologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. She was the lead author for the paper on the Masol fossil findings. Siddhartha Mishra spoke to her about the significance of the excavations. Excerpts:
What do the Masol findings reveal?
If the homo genus made cut marks, this implies that their emergence occurred long before 2.6 million years in Africa. Then add the time necessary to achieve demographic balance needed for survival, and the time needed to reach the sub-Himalayan plains: I agree with scholars who are looking for 3-million-year-old fossils. I also agree with Yves Coppens and Brigitte Senut who recognise a Praeanthropus grade (the ancestral lineage) at 4 to 3.6 million years emerging in the southern hemisphere, independent of the Australopithecine lineage (still thought to be our main ancestral chain).
What species do you think made the marks?
We don’t know of any fossil...