New hominid fossils draw big attention

Australopithecus sediba
Australopithecus sedibaCourtesy Wikimedia Creative Commons
Fossil bones from a creature named Australopithecus sediba show traits of both ape and human features that could shake up the field of human evolution. The fossils were found in South Africa in 2008 and according to lead researcher Lee R. Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, analysis of the bones show it to be the most likely ancestor to modern humans.

The rare, complete fossil hand of A. sediba has a curvature like you’d expect in a tree-dwelling ape-creature but the thumb is long and the fingers slender, more human-like and could allow for possible tool use. The fragmental remains of a heel suggest an arched foot suitable for walking on the ground, and with an attachment for a large Achilles tendon. The pelvis is more bowl-shaped, broad, and human-like than that of the older Australopithecus afarensis known as Lucy.

"This is what evolutionary theory would predict, this mixture of Australopithecene and Homo," said Texas A&M paleoanthropologist Darryl J. DeRuiter. "It's strong confirmation of evolutionary theory."

A. sediba lived two million years ago, and represents a very fine example of a transitional fossil, but its brain is still small and more like that of a chimpanzee, and it’s that fact that may cause scientists to reconsider some of their earlier assumptions about how humans evolved.

The research appears in five separate reports in the current issue of Science.

Star Tribune story
Science journal
More about A. sediba

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

KelsiDayle's picture
KelsiDayle says:

No way! I just read about this last night in National Geographic. (If you can get it, the magazine article is better than the online version.)

posted on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 8:42am
KellieStyles's picture
KellieStyles says:

so much better!

posted on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 5:45pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I think I heard this new find has a remarkable likeness to Rick Perry.

posted on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 9:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is a great thing to read it has inspired me in so many ways i loved it and i would for sure do it again.

posted on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 1:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

nice to read greetings from germany

posted on Sun, 09/25/2011 - 1:45pm
Zdanna's picture
Zdanna says:

This is really exciting! Thanks for posting about this new fossil.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between hominid and hominin? A hominin is part of the human ancestral lineage. So, a gorilla is a hominid and an early australopithecine is actually a hominin.

posted on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 12:59pm
Galen Decker's picture
Galen Decker says:

whoa, hey is this fossil that was nickmaed Arti and is older than lucy?

posted on Sat, 01/21/2012 - 8:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think it very interesting

posted on Sun, 02/19/2012 - 8:16pm

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