Team reconstructs ‘human ancestor’


The most complete view yet of a possible human ancestor uncovered in South Africa has revealed an intriguing mix of human and ape traits.

The two-million-year-old remains of several partial skeletons belonging to a previously unknown humanlike species were found in 2008 near Johannesburg.

The new analysis shows this species –Australopithecus sediba – had a human-like pelvis, hands and teeth, and a chimpanzee-like foot.

The findings appear in Science journal.

In six separate research reports, scientists probed further into the anatomy of a juvenile male skeleton, commonly referred to as MH1, a female skeleton, known as MH2, and an isolated adult tibia or shinbone, known as MH4.

The specimens were found at Malapa in the famous Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, just to the northwest of Johannesburg.

They were pulled from a pit – a depression left in the ground by a cave complex that lost its roof through erosion.

Scientists think the female and male could well have been mother and son.

It seems they died together in some tragic accident that saw them either fall into the cave complex or become stuck in it. After death, their bodies were washed into a pool and cemented in time along with the skeletons of many other animals – sabre-tooth cats, hyenas, antelope, even birds and mice.

Written By: BBC News
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  1. Wonderful!

    “Show me the intermediates”… “Where are the transitional fossils?”

    Creationist/ evolution deniers now have another nightmare.

  2. HEY MODS!!!!! It seems that the site is being sabotaged. Many, many comments have been truncated and are missing very important (and very benign) content. I’d like to raise it to your awareness and hope that it is not an attack. I hope even more that it is not some new policy here at the site.

    Mods’ reply:

    No, don’t panic. Temporary technical glitch, being looked into as we speak. Sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

  3. I read about this a couple of years ago; but it’s no less fascinating now, and well-worth the revisit.

  4. I’m building up an ever more complex picture in my mind of many different hominid species, some more human like, some more chimpanzee like, often living at the same time. It’s amazing.

  5. In reply to #9 by LaurieB:

    Look how flared the ribcage is. Any thoughts on that?

    Chimp-like according to the original article

  6. In reply to #10 by A3Kr0n:

    I see a gap…

    2 more gaps- one either side! Dog must be getting uncomfortable…

  7. In reply to #13 by Nodhimmi:

    In reply to #10 by A3Kr0n:

    I see a gap…

    2 more gaps- one either side! Dog must be getting uncomfortable…

    Only himself to blame,didn’t do a good job concealing the evidence.

  8. In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:

    It really reinforces the idea that hominids were a ring species.

    What is a ring species? Please.

  9. In reply to #15 by ConnedCatholic:

    What is a ring species? Please.

    A classic example of ring species is the Larus gulls’ circumpolar species “ring”. The range of these gulls forms a ring around the North Pole, which is not normally transited by individual gulls.

    The Larus gulls interbreed in a ring around the Arctic. (see diagram of the globe)

    1: L. argentatus argentatus,
    2: L. fuscus,
    3: L. heuglini,
    4: L. vegae birulai,
    5: L. vegae,
    6: L. smithsonianus,
    7: L. argentatus argenteus.

    A ring species is a group of related organisms which look like separate species in different locations until you find the populations are joined up!

  10. The rearticulated skeleton is impressive. However, the more shocking claim at this meeting is that of Lee Berger suggesting that some soft tissue may have survived from A. sediba. Follow the link provided by the BBC to the various papers presented for more (found on page 17).

  11. They always say “It’s just an ape fossil – not human!” I always ask them to define what differentiates us from apes. They say stuff like “Humans walk upright, can talk, and have big brains.” So I then come back with, “This ‘ape’ walked upright, had human-like teeth – and by the way, humans ARE apes.” All they can say is “Humans aren’t apes and never were!” They especially go ballistic when you start in with the DNA similarities. In order to deny our relationship to other primates they have to start making ridiculous claims about DNA and genetics, and it quickly becomes apparent that they’re out of their depth. I like to ask them how quickly they’d become big fans of DNA evidence if it lead to an arrest when they or one of their loved ones was raped or murdered. They’ve never got a come-back for that one.
    In reply to #2 by Nodhimmi:


    “Show me the intermediates”… “Where are the transitional fossils?”

    Creationist/ evolution deniers now have another nightmare.

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