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Monday, 12 April 2010 23:20

New human species: Australopithecus sediba


A boy and his father were out walking around north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Luckily, the father was a paleoanthropologist and he knew the remains found by his son could be a major archeological discovery. It was! A new hominid species called Australopithecus sediba.

The bones of a four-foot, two-inch hominid boy were initially found by U.S. paleoanthropologist Lee R. Berger and his son Matthew.

Dr. Berger commented on his first reaction to his son's discovery within the April 8, 2010 The New York Times article 'New Hominid Species Discovered in South Africa.'

Berger declared, 'I couldn't believe it. I took the rock, and I turned it '¦ sticking out of the back of the rock was a mandible with a tooth, a canine, sticking out. And I almost died'¦. What are the odds?'

Dr. Berger is associated with the Institute for Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

After the initial discover, Berger and fellow collaborators have found more bones of the boy, including a well-preserved skull, along with the bones of three other hominids.

The fossilized bones were found encased in deposits at the Malapa cave in South Africa. Malapa is located about 28 miles (45 kilometers) north-northwest of the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. It is situated with the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, at Gauteng, South Africa.

Page two continues.

The summary of their discovery has been published in the journal Science. Their paper is entitled 'Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa' (Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 195 - 204; doi: 10.1126/science.1184944).

Besides Dr. Berger, the other authors of the paper include Darryl J. de Ruiter, Steven E. Churchill, Peter Schmid, Kristian J. Carlson, Paul H. G. M. Dirks, and Job M. Kibii.

Check out 'Special Feature: Australopithecus sediba' for additional articles on the discovery within the journal Science.

The Special Feature article within the journal Science includes links to the following four articles:

1. "Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa" by
L. R. Berger et al.

2. "Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa" by
P. H. G. M. Dirks et al.


3. "News of the Week: Candidate Human Ancestor From South Africa Sparks Praise and Debate" by
Michael Balter

4. "Science Podcast: Lee Berger on Australopithecus sediba [MP3]
Audio interview
," hosted by Robert Frederick

Page three concludes.

The bones of the hominid species Australopithecus sediba found inside the Malapa cave are thought by scientists to be about 1.78 million to 1.95 million years old.

According to The New York Times article, ''¦ the new species probably descended from Australopithecus africanus ... as a possible ancestor of Homo erectus, an immediate predecessor to Homo sapiens, or a close 'side branch' that did not lead to modern humans.'

Please read The New York Times article for more details of the discovery in the 'Cradle of Humankind' area around South Africa.



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