Fossils of Our Family; June 2010; Scientific American Magazine; by Kate Wong; 2 Page(s)
Fossils of a human species new to science could be the direct ancestor of our genus, Homo. Discovered in Malapa Cave, located some 40 kilometers outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, the finds comprise two partial skeletons that are nearly 1.95 million years old. The researchers have named them Australopithecus sediba.
The pair—an adult female and juvenile male that may have been mother and son—appear to have fallen through a hole in the cave ceiling while possibly attempting to access a pool of water inside. So exceptional is the preservation of the skeletons that the discovery is being likened to the famous Lucy fossil from Ethiopia. But the startling mix of primitive and advanced traits evident in the remains is sparking debate over where the new species belongs on the family tree.