Homo habilis aka “Handyman” or “Tool Man” was an early human species that existed between 2.8-1.5 mya according to mainstream evolutionary theory. In the 1950s the first fossils of this species were discovered in Tanzania, Africa at the Olduvai Gorge. He was nicknamed “handyman” because it was believed this species made and used stone tools also found in the Gorge. Debate continues as to whether this species is of the genus Homo or Australopithecus due to its brain size, body, teeth, and other features.
Some interesting facts about Homo habilis include:
The brain case ranged from 550 cm to 687 cm making it about 50% larger than the brain cases of the Australopithicines yet smaller than Homo sapiens whose braincase is between 1350-1450 cm.
Homo habilis stood an average height of 4 ft 3 inches tall.
Homo habilis was discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey who at first found “milk teeth” in 1955 and then in 1959 Mary Leakey found the cranium of a young adult. This cranium had small canines and large chewing molars. The cranium was named “nutcracker man.”
In 1968 skull OH24 was discovered in the Oldubai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa and nicknamed “Twiggy.” It was dated at 1.8 myr.
In 1986 Donald Johanson & Time White found H. habilis remains at Olduvai Gorge which included lower and upper limbs. This fossil is known as OH62.
Additional H. habilis fossil remains have also been found in Kenya (1973).
Homo habilis is believed to be the first “Homo” genus (true human) to exist and the first to use handmade stone tools known as Oldowan Stone Tools. Most were made of volcanic rock cobbles and used for scavenging rather than hunting. This ability to make and use stone tools is what characterizes Homo habilis as human (Homo) rather than as an primate.
Some researchers believe what we know as “home” all began wih H. habilis because children of this species would not have been able to cling as primate infants do to their mothers. They would have had to remain in a “home.” This was an evolutionary change in the genus Homo.
Some researchers hold the opinion that H.habilis is a “transitional species” (missing link) from the Australopithecines to H. erectus. Debate over this continues, however.