Missing Link?


Fossils of a new species of early human ancestors was unveiled at the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site, northwest of Johannesburg.

The two fossilised skeletons of an adult female in her late 20s and a young male aged between 10 and 13 years were discovered in late 2008 by Wits University professor Lee Berger.

The new species was named Australopithecus sediba. The word sediba means spring or wellbeing in Sesotho.

It is said to be a new form of the human species in transition between the African-Ape Man and a species more human in appearance, the Homo erectus.

"I believe this is a good candidate for being the transitional species between the southern African ape-man Australopithecus, like the famed fossilised 'Mrs Ples' skull discovered in 1947, and either Homo habilis [the handy man] or even a direct ancestor to Homo erectus [the upright man]," said Berger.

The skeletons, which are about 1.3m tall, were found in one of 500 caves that were previously undiscovered in the area.

The first piece was found by Berger's nine-year-old son, Matthew, while on a dig with Berger.

"These skeletons are a Rosetta stone into the past. They died within minutes, hours, days or even weeks of one another. They would have known each other, they would have looked into each other's eyes.

"They are the most remarkable and complete skeletons, far more complete than the famous 'Lucy' found in Ethiopia [in 1974]. They represent a completely new species of ancestors to humankind."

The scientist said the species had long arms like an ape, short powerful hands, a very advanced pelvis and long legs capable of striding and possibly running like a human. They could also have climbed.

The fossils of animals were also discovered in the cave sites where the sediba fossils were found.

A panel of experts on the site said that these early humans shared their world with sabre-toothed cats, an early form of zebra, a long- legged hyena, and bushbuck. The area would have been a mosaic of "savannah grassland and forest".

The university's vice chancellor, Loyiso Nongxa, has invited the children of South Africa to take part in a competition and submit names for the younger male fossil.

The unveiling was attended by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

Motlanthe said: "The discovery opens an unusually panoramic window, revealing more about our African origins.

"Truly, visitors to South Africa . will be coming home. And of course this will include a visit to Maropeng, meaning the place we all come from.

"It is an iconic place, a place of pilgrimage, belonging to the people of the world. The place where our collective umbilical cord is buried."


sorry but I couldn't be bothered to read all that so could u give me a brief outline?

clinttherakam wrote:

sorry but I couldn't be bothered to read all that so could u give me a brief outline?

Basically, there's a place in South Africa known as the Cradle of Humankind, where many of the pre-evolutions of Man have been discovered. We are still missing some parts of the evolutionary chain, but now we have discovered yet another link- that between Australopithecus and either Homo Habilis or Homo Erectus.

It's lucky this thread is in Off Topic, because otherwise the conversation would go rapidly downhill, methinks. This is a sensitive area in terms of forum rules! Wink