In a discovery that could rewrite the story of human evolution, scientists working in South Africa have uncovered the skeletal remains of a new species of ancient human.
The two partial skeletons of an adult female and child were found in miners’ debris in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in 2008 by Professor Lee Berger from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
The species – named Australopithecus sediba – has features of both earlier bipedal apes and more recent species of early Homo, the scientists claim. The anatomy and age of the remains are described in two papers in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science.
An international team of more than 60 scientists was involved in the identification and dating of the skeletons, including Dr Andy Herries from the University of New South Wales, Dr Robyn Pickering from the University of Melbourne and Dr Paul Dirks from James Cook University.
“The newly documented species appears to be a very good transitional form, maybe the best yet found, between Australopithecines and early members of the genus Homo,” Professor Berger said.