Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paleoanthropologists have recently discovered an apelike creature with human features, whose fossil bones were discovered in a South African cave. Les Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the founder of the fossils, believes that the new species is the most plausible known ancestor of archaic and modern humans. He also believes that if accepted, this finding would radically redraw the present version of the human family tree, placing the new fossils in the center. The new species, in his view, should dislodge Homo habilis, the famous tool-making fossil found by Louis and Mary Leakey, as the most likely bridge between the australopithecenes and the human lineage. In this particular case, there are many uncertainties regarding the fossil record from that time, including when the human lineage first emerged and how Homo habilis fits in the picture. The principal significance of the new fossils is not that Australopithecus sediba is necessarily the direct ancestor of the human genus, other scientists said, but rather that the fossils emphasize the richness of evolutionary experimentation within the australopithecine group.


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