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This specimen also has small canine teeth compared with those of apes, thus aligning it with the hominins in an important functional regard.

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Human evolution, it appears, has consistently been a process of trial and error.

Historically, this process has been considered a more or less direct series of assumed improvements within a single lineage that eventually culminated in the burnished “perfection” of .

The does not indicate with certainty if this species was at all terrestrial, although the fairly forward position of its foramen magnum (the hole through which the spinal cord exits the braincase) may suggest a habitually upright posture.

The most remarkable aspect of this skull is the broadness and flatness of its face—something previously associated with much more recent hominins—in conjunction with a smaller, ape-sized braincase.

Magi, singular Magus, also called Wise Men, in Christian tradition, the noble pilgrims “from the East” who followed a miraculous guiding star to Bethlehem, where they paid homage to the infant Jesus as king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1–12).

Christian theological tradition has always stressed that Gentiles as well as Jews came to worship Jesus—an event celebrated in the Eastern church at Christmas and in the West at Epiphany (January 6).

They had small (ape-sized) braincases and rather protruding faces.

Given these apelike cranial proportions, it is hardly surprising that many paleoanthropologists have characterized these early hominins as “ from Hadar, Ethiopia.

As flattering to the modern human ego as this picture may be, it is evidently quite wrong.

Instead, human evolution has been throughout its long history a matter of experimentation, with new species being constantly spawned and thrown into the ecological arena to compete and, more often than not, become extinct.

The Adoration of the Magi—i.e., their homage to the infant Jesus—early became one of the most popular themes in Christian art, the first extant painting on the subject being the fresco in the Priscilla Catacomb of Rome dating from the 2nd century.