Fossil Find May Be 'Missing Link' in Human Evolution





Scientists hope discovery of child skeleton will help them to work out what our ancestors looked like and to determine key dates in their evolution from ape-man to man-ape.

A fossil skeleton of a child discovered in a cave system known as the Cradle of Humankind may represent a previously unknown stage in the evolution of man, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

The skeleton, which is almost complete despite being two million years old, is believed to belong to one of the hominid groups that includes humans.

Hominid fossil finds are usually little more than small bone fragments. Scientists hope such a complete find will help them to work out what our ancestors looked like and to determine key dates in their evolution from ape-man to man-ape. Experts who have seen the skeleton says it resembles Homo habilis, the first species of advanced human.

The skeleton was found by Professor Lee Berger, reader in human evolution and the public understanding of science at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, as he explored cave systems in Sterkfontein, a Unesco world heritage site.

The caves are the site of one of the world’s longest-running archeological excavations and are regarded as paleontological treasure troves. Jacob Zuma, the South African president, visited the university to view the find, which is to be announced this week.

The new fossil skeleton was found with a number of other partially complete fossils, encased within breccia sedimentary rock inside a limestone cave known as Malapa cave.


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