Kenyanthropus platyops skull KNM WT 40000 (3.5 million years).
The Kenyanthropus platyops skull KNM-WT-40000 was discovered in 1999 by J. Erus, a member of Meave Leakey's team, west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. In 2001 Leakey et al. described the specimen in Nature. Leakey and colleagues viewed the finds as being distinct enough from Australopithecus, particularly in the marked flatness of the face, that it justifies giving them a new genus and species, Kenyanthropus platyops, meaning "flat faced hominid from Kenya". Providing a second hominid species in the period from 3 to 3.5 MYA, the discovery of this specimen challenges A. afarensis "Lucy" as the direct ancestor of modern human. The classification of this specimen as a separate genus is not uncontroversial, especially given the damaged condition (1,100 face pieces) in which the skull was found. Some authorities emphasize that the skull was so deformed that it is difficult to interpret its position in hominid evolution.