New Studies Shake Up Human Family Tree
Does a 2-million-year-old skeleton unseat "Lucy" from a critical evolutionary junction on the way to Homo, our genus?
But in a spate of new studies, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, of the University of the Witwatersrand, and a team of collaborators have put forward a controversial claim that another hominin—Australopithecus sediba—might be even closer to the origin of our lineage, possibly bumping Lucy from the critical evolutionary junction she has occupied for so long.
Berger and colleagues named Australopithecus sediba in 2010. The 1.98-million-year-old hominin, known from partial skeletons of an adult female and a juvenile male, along with an isolated tibia, was discovered two years earlier at the South African cave site of Malapa.
Since that initial announcement, Berger and coauthors have been further analyzing the anatomy and geological context of the fossils, with their studies culminating in a series of six