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Last Updated: Wednesday April 06 2005 20:01 GMT

Fossil may have been early human

An ape-like creature that lived seven million years ago may have been the earliest known ancestor of humans.

New evidence shows that the remains of the creature found in 2002 has human features and may have walked upright.

A skull was found in the African country Chad three years ago - since then named Toumaļ - and scientists have worked hard to learn more about it.

Some people thought it was an ape when it was first found, but this new evidence suggests it was a human.

As well as working on the remains of Toumaļ's skull, other scientists have been studying other very old fossils found in Chad as well, reports the science magazine Nature.

When found Toumaļ confused some experts because it had an ape-like brain and skull shape, but its facial features looked human.

It was also difficult to understand because it was so badly mangled, but scientists using computers to work out what it really looked like.

However they tried they couldn't make the computer scan look like a chimpanzee or gorilla, but they were able to recreate the look of an early human, called a hominid.

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