16 April 2013
A. sediba is a species of Australopithecus of the early Pliestocene, identified based fossil remains dated to about 2 million years ago. The species is known from six skeletons discovered in the Malapa Fossil Site at Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa. One juvenile male (MHI called Karabo), an adult female (MH2), an adult male, and three infants. The fossils were found at the bottom of Malapa Cave, where they apparently fell to their death, and have been dated to between 1.977 and 1.980 million years ago. Palaeoanthropologist Lee R. Berger and colleagues named the early human ancestor Australopithecus Sediba, menaing “natural spring” or “well” in Sotho language. The first specimen of A. sediba was found by Berger’s 9 year old son Matthew, on August 15, 2008. A hominid clavicle and a mandible with a tooth, a canine sticking out. This turned out to be that of the juvenile approx. 4ft 2in. (1.27 m) tall. In a recent article written in the L. A. Times (April 12, 2013), Berger and his colleagues believe that A. sediba based on the “mosaic nature” of these specimens makes them a strong candidate to be the “missing link” – the branch of Australopithecus that ultimately gave rise to the genus Homo, which includes Homo sapiens. But not everyone agrees with this view. Critics say the skeletons are not old enough to be the precursors to Homo. Others say the similarities can be chalked up to the diversity of early hominids, but that aspects of A. sediba’s anatomy make it unlikely candidate for being our forebears. Donald Johanson, the Arizona State University paleoanthropologist who discovered “Lucy” in 1974, said the first homo species appeared 2.4 million years ago in east Africa. Instead of giving rise to the homo, A. sediba would have been contemporary. Further Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History...