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Researchers have unearthed a new species of ancient human in the Afar region of Ethiopia.

The study, published in the journal Nature, says the research team discovered jaw bones and teeth, which date to between 3.3 million and 3.5 million years old.

It means this new hominin was alive at the same time as several other early human species, suggesting our family tree is more complicated than was thought.Australopithecus deyiremeda discovered in Ethiopia

The new species has been called Australopithecus deyiremeda, which means “close relative” in the language spoken by the Afar people.

The ancient remains are thought to belong to four individuals, who would have had both ape and human-like features.

The age of the remains means that this was potentially one of four different species of early humans that were all alive at the same time.

The most famous of these is Australopithecus afarensis – known as Lucy – who lived between 2.9 million and 3.8 million years ago, and was initially thought to be our direct ancestor.

However, the discovery of another species called Kenyanthropus platyops in Kenya in 2001, and of Australopithecus bahrelghazali in Chad, and now Australopithecus deyiremedaI, suggests that there were several species co-existing.