Thursday, April 08, 2010

New Fossil May Show How Apes Became Humans

fossilScientists in South Africa, initially tipped off by the accidental find of a 9-year-old boy, announced today that they have discovered a set of fossils that could hold the key to unlocking a mysterious period in human evolution.

The fossils are part of a new species, Australopithecus sediba, which are estimated to be nearly 2 million years old and show similarities to both the southern African ape-man and the earliest humans, such as Lucy and Turkana Boy.

"We have one of the most remarkable records, a female, a male and a juvenile of one specific species, and they are showing a pattern," said Lee Berger, an American paleoanthropologist from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. "Whether they turn out to be a side component or a direct relative [of human beings] they will be extraordinary."

The scientists have assembled an adult female and male, and a young male they estimate was between 10 and 13 years old.

Full story here.

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