Dr Lordkipanidze and colleagues
The latest discoveries the 1.77-million-year-old skeletons of three adults and a teenager have legs and feet adapted for long-distance walking and running, similar to those of modern humans, but have hands and arms similar to those of our tree-dwelling ancestors. The ancient Dmanisi inhabitants, who have some human features and some ape-like features, share characteristics with both , originally thought to be the first Homo species to migrate from Africa to Europe, and Homo habilis, the oldest species with human attributes found in Africa. 

Dr Lordkipanidze and his team of researchers reckon that the Dmanisi individuals were 1.45- to 1.66-metre-tall meat-eaters who probably slept in trees at night for safety.

The latest findings, which also raise questions about the evolution of Homo sapiens and about migration out of Africa, were revealed in a major article in Nature magazine in September 2007, written by Lordkipanidze and his team of European and American researchers.

Dmanisi is not only the oldest site outside Africa, but also the most prolific a treasure trove of prehistoric archaeology, says Lordkipanidze, who is director of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi.

Only 5 per cent of the 13,000-square-metre site at Dmanisi has been excavated and, for much of the time since the archaeological work began in earnest in 1991, it was protected only by a plastic tarpaulin roof. Now, partly with the funding from his Rolex Award, Lordkipanidze and his colleagues have had a dome built over the site to protect it from the weather and from looting.
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