So now, of course, I can’t not draw your attention to the ~2mya Malapa Cave (South Africa) finds just published in Science, esp. as one of the authors has his home as the same university as I do (Zürich, Switzerland). The two partial skeletons, MH1 and MH2 are dubbed Australopithecus sediba. Who would want to miss out on the rare opportunity to name a new species, eh?
I haven’t read the articles yet, but I am sure to do so soon. John Hawks has already some usefull comments on his blog.
Below the abstract of the main article in Science and the ref to the second article. It’s also worth to have a look at the website of the University of Zürich and the videos there, even if you don’t understand much German. The main video doesn’t show much of the bones, but is subtitled in English. What’s rather nice, is that Schmid and colleagues say that they want to keep the material available for and share it with other researchers, incl. the original material.
Science 9 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 195 – 204
Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa
Lee R. Berger,1,2,* Darryl J. de Ruiter,3,1 Steven E. Churchill,4,1 Peter Schmid,5,1 Kristian J. Carlson,1,6 Paul H. G. M. Dirks,2,7 Job M. Kibii1
Despite a rich African Plio-Pleistocene hominin fossil record, the ancestry of Homo and its relation to earlier australopithecines remain unresolved. Here we report on two partial skeletons with an age of 1.95 to 1.78 million years. The fossils were encased in cave deposits at the Malapa site in South Africa. The skeletons were found close together and are directly associated with craniodental remains. Together they represent a new species of Australopithecus that is probably descended from Australopithecus africanus. Combined craniodental and postcranial evidence demonstrates that this new species shares more derived features with early Homo than any other australopith species and thus might help reveal the ancestor of that genus.
1 Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa.
2 School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa.
3 Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
4 Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Box 90383, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
5 Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.
6 Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.
7 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.
Science 9 April 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5975, pp. 205 – 208
Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa
Paul H. G. M. Dirks,1,2,* Job M. Kibii,3 Brian F. Kuhn,3 Christine Steininger,3,2 Steven E. Churchill,4,3 Jan D. Kramers,2,5,6 Robyn Pickering,7 Daniel L. Farber,8,9 Anne-Sophie Mériaux,10 Andy I. R. Herries,11,12 Geoffrey C. P. King,13 Lee R. Berger3,2