This video is called New Hominid Species Discovery: Australopithecus sediba.
From James Cook University in Australia:
Fossil links human species
Friday, 09 April 2010
A team led by Professor Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and Professor Paul Dirks now at James Cook University have discovered a new species of hominid believed to be “a good candidate for being the transitional species” between humans and ape-man.
Two partial skeletons – a juvenile male and an adult female – were found in a cave by Professor Berger about 40km north west of Johannesburg. In fact it was Professor Berger’s nine-year-old son Matthew who found the first remains – a collar bone.
The hominid fossils are arguably the most complete skeletons of early hominids ever discovered and are by far the most complete remains of any hominid dating to around two million years ago.
Two papers relating to the discovery are being published today (April 9) in the journal Science. Professor Berger is lead author on the first paper and Professor Dirks lead author on the second.
The unique find was made after Professors Dirks and Berger embarked on a study on the geological controls of cave distribution and formation in the Cradle of Humankind.
An international team of more than 60 scientists have since been involved in the project including Dr Robyn Pickering of the University of Melbourne and Dr Andrew Herries from the University of New South Wales. Both were involving in dating either the rocks or debris encasing the fossils and are co-authors on the paper with Professor Dirks.
The new species has been named sediba which means natural spring, fountain or wellspring in Sotho, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa.
“Sediba was deemed an appropriate name for a species that might be the point from which the genus Homo arises,” Professor Berger said.
“I believe that this is a good candidate for being the transitional species between the south African ape-man Australopithecus africanus – like Taung Child and Mrs Ples- and either Homo habilis or even a direct ancestor of Homo erectus – like Turkana Boy, Java man or Peking man,” he said.
The team have compared the skeletons with all the remains of fossil hominds that have been discovered and in many ways they are absolutely unique from any fossil species found.
The sediba species has long arms, like an ape, short powerful hands, a very advanced pelvis (hip bone) and long legs capable of striding and possibly running like a human. It is likely that they could have climbed.
“It is estimated that they were both about 1.27 metres tall, although the child would certainly have grown taller. The female probably weighed about 33 kilograms and the child about 27 kilograms at the time of his death,” Professor Berger said.
“The brain size of the juvenile was between 420 and 450 cubic centimetres, which is small (when compared to the human brain of about 1200 to 1600 cubic centimetres) but the shape of the brain seems to be more advanced than that of Australopithecines.
“Our study indicates that Australopithecus sediba could be a better ancestor of Homo erectus than Homo habilis and it may certainly help to clear up some of this ‘muddle in the middle’,” Professor Berger said.
Professor Dirks said that through a combination of faunal, U-Pb and palaeomagnetic dating techniques, the age of the rocks encasing the fossils had been determined at 1.95-1.78 million years ago. Cosmogenic dating was used to interpret the landscape formation and to determine the depth of the cave at the time. …
The skeletons, which were first discovered in August 2008, were found amongst the articulated skeletons of a sabre-toothed cat, antelope, mice and rabbits. They are preserved in a hard, concrete like substance known as calcified clastic sediment that formed at the bottom of what appears to be a shallow underground lake or pool that was possibly about 50 metres tall about 1.9 million years ago.
See also here.
Is Australopithecus Sediba The Best Candidate Ancestor To Our Species? Here.
Australopithecus sediba is a mosaic of modern and primitive traits: here.
From the University of New South Wales in Australia:
Skull reveals short ancestor
Friday, 21 May 2010
Our family tree has grown once again with the identification of another new species of early human ancestor, based on a fresh analysis of a partial skull found decades ago in South Africa’s famous Sterkfontein Caves, near Johannesburg.
Identified and named as Homo gautengensis by anthropologist Dr Darren Curnoe, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth Environmental Sciences, the surprise finding is the earliest recognised species of Homo. While earlier fossils belong to the genus Homo, none have yet been classified in any species.
A team of researchers that included Johns Hopkins University geologist Naomi Levin has found that early hominids living in what is now northern Kenya ate a wider variety of foods than previously thought, including fish and aquatic animals such as turtles and crocodiles. Rich in protein and nutrients, these foods may have played a key role in the development of a larger, more human-like brain in our early forebears, which some anthropologists believe happened around 2 million years ago, according to the researchers’ study: here.
Ancient humans were hungry for hyena: here.
Humans may be near the top of the food chain now, but who were our ancestors’ biggest predators? Read more: here.
Archaeologists have begun trading verbal blows over a set of animal bones said to exhibit the earliest evidence of stone tool-assisted butchery on record. The skirmish raises questions about how archaeological analyses are conducted: here.
Stone fragments found in Georgia suggest Homo erectus might have evolved outside Africa: here.