Fredrick Manthi Kyalo displayed his discovery, the well-preserved 1.55 million-year-old top of a skull from a Homo erectus, during a press conference at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi.
"I found this particular specimen the day of my birthday," on August 5 2000, he told reporters.
The discovery revealed by the journal Nature yesterday challenges some widely accepted evolutionary theories by suggesting that Homo habilis and Homo erectus coexisted rather than coming one after the other.
"What I want to say is that for a long time, this has been the case (...) that Kenyans are given very low credit. We are here to begin to change that," said Manthi Kyalo.
"This is a row that we are beginning," he added.
The Nature journal said the fossils were discovered by Fred Spoor of University College London and his colleagues.
The discovery in Kenya’s Lake Turkana region was also widely credited to Meave and Louise Leakey, two white Kenyan anthropologists of British origin who headed the paleontological research project.
Manthi Kyalo, who also displayed the other half of the discovery, a 1.44 million-year-old upper jawbone from a Homo habilis much younger than most fossils of this species, cried foul.
"Yes, I’ve been given a low credit for that," he said. "We are here to make the Kenyans aware" that one of them "has found this very important fossil."
The find was described as very significant by the Nature magazine.
"They (the fossils) show that two ancestral human species seem to have lived cheek-by-jowl in the same area, much as gorillas and chimpanzees do today," it said.Other scientists have contested Nature’s interpretation of the discovery.
Source : Sunday Times