JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICAThe discovery of the fossilized remains of an early hominid species was announced at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on December 9, 1998. Following up on discoveries from 1994, paleoanthropologist Ron Clarke and two assistants found the remains in a cave at Sterkfontein in Transvaal. They have recovered the skull and its complete skeleton, which they believe to be Australopithecus. Previously, the most complete example of that species was Lucy, found in Ethiopia in November 1974. Scientists recovered about 40 percent of Lucys bones, including portions of both her skull and skeleton.
Once the Sterkfontein remains are removed from their hard limestone shell, a full scientific study may reveal the role of this hominid in the history of evolutionary development. A full specimen enables paleoanthropologists to study how the hominid used its hands and arms, how the dimensions of brain and limbs were related and how the creature walked. Although believed to be Australopithecus, from about three million years ago, further study will be needed to provide more accurate species identification and chronological placement.
To read the full press release regarding this fascinating find, go to the University of Witwatersrands coverage.
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Go in search of human origins in Botswana.
Institute of Human Origin
Learn about Lucy and other important finds at this Arizona State University site.
Links to South African & Other Palaeontology Sites
This is a great source for sites on related topics.
Paleontology Without Walls
This site presents virtual exhibits from the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, South Africa
Read the media coverage from Ron Clarkes university.