A 9-year-old boy has discovered in South Africa the first known fossils of a primitive pre-human species, a finding that has scientists arguing anew over the roots of the human family tree. Science Columnist Robert Lee Hotz has the details of the new discovery in an interview with Simon Constable.
The eroded remains of a prehistoric limestone cave in South Africa have yielded fossils belonging to a new species of early human ancestor, an international research team announced Thursday. Two sets of fossils, dated to around 1.95 million years ago, belonged to a female in her late 20s and a male 12 years old. They were found in a hilly area near Johannesburg known for its early human fossils.
The purported new species, Australopithecus sediba, “may make a very good candidate ancestor” to the genus Homo, which includes modern humans, says Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who led a team that found the fossils. “Sediba might be a Rosetta Stone for defining for the first time just what the genus Homo is.”
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