Early Human Ancestor, Australopithecus sediba, Fossils Discovered in Rock

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This is the tooth of a hominid embedded in a rock containing significant parts of a skeleton of an early human ancestor. The skeleton is believed to be the remains of “Karabo”, the type skeleton of Australopithecus sediba, discovered at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009. (Credit: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

Scientists from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg have just announced the discovery of a large rock containing significant parts of a skeleton of an early human ancestor. The skeleton is believed to be the remains of ‘Karabo’, the type skeleton of Australopithecus sediba, discovered at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009.

Professor Lee Berger, a Reader in Palaeoanthropology and the Public Understanding of Science at the Wits Institute for Human Evolution, will make the announcement at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai, China on 13 July 2012.

“We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record,” says Berger. “This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock. It’s a big day for us as a team and for our field as a whole.”

Written By: ScienceDaily
continue to source article at sciencedaily.com

9 COMMENTS

  1.  I don’t have a comprehensive answer, but some chip away the rock carefully.
    By the nature of fossilisation, the rocks are laid down as sediments, which often break quite easily -sometimes exposing at least part of the fossil at the broken surface.

  2. We discussed the  Australopithecus sediba, and Malpa fossils here:- http://richarddawkins.net/arti… was also a National Geographic article about the initial discovery,  here:- http://ngm.nationalgeographic…. photographs here:- http://ngm.nationalgeographic…. comparison with other Homo species here;- http://ngm.nationalgeographic…. good diagrammatic image of the Malpa cave system here:- http://ngm.nationalgeographic…. an evolutionary lineage diagram here:- http://ngm.nationalgeographic….

  3.  What has the DISQUS system done to my post?

    We discussed the  Australopithecus sediba, and Malpa fossils here:- 

    http://richarddawkins.net/arti… 

    There was also a National Geographic article about the initial discovery,  here:-

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic….

    With photographs here:-

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic….

    A comparison with other Homo species here;-

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic….

    A good diagrammatic image of the Malpa cave system here:-

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic…. 

    And an evolutionary lineage diagram here:-

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic….

  4. esuther asked,

    “Can anyone tell me how they get their bone out of the solid rock? (I’m
    assuming the tooth is the original organic  tooth, and not its fossil.)
    Any paleontologists here to explain?”

    Call a dentist

  5. With homo habilis; previously thought to have been a common ancestor, relegated to  yet another evolutionary dead end among many hominid species around 2my, the  attention might now tend towards asking whether other assumed shared human ancestors like h. erectus, etc. are still to be considered in our direct line of descent. The earliest h.erectus fossils date from only a few hundred thousand years after this A. sediba specimen, so if linked it would close the gap in the fossil record to just about zero.
    It’s fantastic how fast the new evidence just keeps coming in.

  6. I’d rather they leave the the fossil and rock intact. How interesting is this?! It really does bring home the fact that it is much older than 6K years old. All other human fossils (or casts of human remains) that I have seen on display just look like old blackened bones.

  7.  

    Can anyone tell me how they get their bone out of the solid rock? (I’m
    assuming the tooth is the original organic  tooth, and not its fossil.
    )
    Any paleontologists here to explain?

    It is more common for the original material to be partly of wholly replaced by mineral material, as described here:-

    . Replacement and recrystallization http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F

    Replacement occurs when the shell, bone or other tissue is
    replaced with another mineral. In some cases mineral replacement of the
    original shell occurs so gradually and at such fine scales that
    microstructural features are preserved despite the total loss of
    original material. A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite.

    There are other forms of mineralisation described on the link.

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