Thursday, September 8, 2011

Karabo: New fossils revise human evolution theories

A pair of two-million-year-old fossils with a mish-mash of human and ape characteristics have changed the way scientists think human-like features evolved.

A detailed analysis of an adult female and a young male of a species known as Australopithecus sediba reveals they had the most human-like pelvis and hand ever found, and a grapefruit-sized brain and an ape-like heel built for tree climbing, said a series of studies published Thursday in Science.

The species is "uniquely positioned… to be a good candidate ancestor for the earliest members of the genus Homo," said Lee Berger, the researcher at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, who led the project, in a podcast interview with Science.

"But if it is, the evolution… probably didn't happen the way we thought it did."