New analysis of a well-preserved African fossil, which scientists say possibly could belong to a human ancestor displaying a mix of both human and primitive traits, could very well change the views of the origins of humans, a report by Livescience.com stated earlier this week.
The fossils, the partial skeletons of a juvenile male and adult female, reportedly date back to 1.98 million years ago, from an era notoriously lacking in evidence of possible human relatives.
“The many very advanced features found in the brain and body, and the earlier date make it possibly the best candidate ancestor for our genus, the genus Homo, more so than previous discoveries,” said Lee Berger, at the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
About 4 feet tall each, the two skeletons of the Australopithecus sediba ( “southern wellspring ape”) species were discovered in 2008 and first reported last year from the Malapa site in South Africa, a series of exposed ancient caves.
Researchers say that the vanished species climbed trees with low-hanging arms like orangutans but also walked on the ground like people and possessed human-like hands capable of grabbing sticks and rocks.
That find may force a re-evaluation of the process of evolution because many researchers had previously associated development of a human-like pelvis with enlargement of the brain, but in each of the two fossils found, the brain was still small.
“This is what evolutionary theory would predict, exactly this confusion, this mix of features of Australopithecines and Homo,” Darryl de Ruiter, an anthropologist at Texas A&M University who contributed to the research, said.
After the discovery, the children of South Africa were invited to name the child, which they called “Karabo,” meaning “answer” in the local Tswana language.
According to Berger, Karabo would have been aged 10 to 13 in terms of human development; the female – who remains unnamed – was in her 20s and there are indications that she may have given birth once. The researchers are not sure if the two were related.
Image & Source via CBS News