The two-million-year-old fossil remains of an ancient human ancestor have been uncovered in South Africa.
Australopithecus sediba possessed the long arms and primitive shoulders of an ape but with dextrous hands and legs that could straighten like a human. This unusual combination of traits is unlike anything ever seen in the fossil record. The find is distinct from that of the hominid known as 'Lucy' who belonged to an earlier species called Australopithecus afarensis and roamed South Africa 3.2 million years ago.
Palaeontologists uncovered the bones of five individuals, each remarkably well preserved because it is believed they died when they fell in to a sink hole. "This could very well be a family group," said Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University. "I have never seen fossils this well preserved. Itís unreal. They are stunning."
"She walked with a knock-kneed gait, with a heel like a chimp but the upright posture of a human, and she may provide the most complete evidence yet of early manís closest ancestor, scientists said Thursday."
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