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New Pre-Human Species Offers Clues to Evolution

My Science-in-the-News presentation. April 22, 2010.

Marie Price

on 17 May 2010

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Transcript of New Pre-Human Species Offers Clues to Evolution

New Pre-Human Species Offers Clues to Evolution An 'unprecedented' fossil discovery! April 9th, Section C The first specimen of the Australopithecus Sediba was found by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger's nine-year-old son, Matthew, on August 15, 2008. While exploring near his father's dig site in the plains north of Johannesburg, Matthew stumbled upon the fossilized remains of a young pre-human male. The find was announced to the public on April 8, 2010. Recently, two partial fossilized skeletons were unearthed in the Malapa caves, 40 km outside Johannesburg, South Africa. These skeletons belong to a previously unclassified species of pre-human dating back almost 2 million years.
The fossils were of a young male and adult female and they shared a significant amount of physical traits with the earliest known human Homo species.
The fossils are 1.78 to 1.95 million years old and are now known as Australopithecus sediba.
I am struck by the exceptional nature of something right on our doorstep... there are more hominid fossils than I have ever discovered in my entire career. When me found it we never imagined that we were looking at a new species. It has become clear that humans migrated originally from Africa: many believe the human genus Homo evolved from the Australopithecus genus 2 million years ago. One of the best known pre-humans is "Lucy" an Austrapoithecus afarensis, which is about one million years older than this new species. One the left: computer generated picture of Lucy the A. afarensis. Right: Lucy's remains What is so Special about the A. Sediba? Although this new species is not really the "missing link" in human evolutionary history, it does say alot about where the early members of the genus homo emerged. These fossils give us an extraordinarily detailed look into a new chapter of human evolution... when the homonids made the committed change from dependency on life in the trees to life on the ground. Article Summary There are only a few small fragments of species earlier than the Au. afarensis Lucy The A. sediba fits either here: Or even here: or here! A Quick Video Clip: Questions! 1. Why do you think it took so long for Prof.Berger to announce his anthropological find?
2. Why is this discovery so significant? Hint: Trees
3. How is it possible the Au. sediba was one of our
direct ancestors?
4. In what country and near what city were the fossils
found? Introduction Thanks for Watching!
Full transcript