Scientists tweet ‘jackpot’ fossil find at Rising Star cave

2013-11-20 00:00

“WE have just won the jackpot …”

This was the tweet from @RisingStarExped at about noon yesterday.

Calls for more details since have not revealed any new information from the tent town above the Rising Star cave complex in the Cradle of Humankind.

“We have won the proverbial jackpot, yes, but I cannot say anything more than this because the fossils that had been found must first be thoroughly investigated to confirm what they are,” said Natasha Barbolini, assistant expedition leader, shortly after the tantalising tweet.

All she could confirm was that the diggers working 30 metres underground had found “a helluva lot of fossils”.

Professor Lee Berger, expedition leader, did tweet that a “large piece of skull” had been removed from the cave.

To date, the six scientists who were selected for being petite enough to squeeze into the cave had sent to the surface 371 fossilised hominid bones of “numerous individuals”, including several other skull pieces, making this the biggest fossil find yet.

Barbolini confirmed the latest skull piece came from what Berger had earlier described as a “hominid heap”.

The news made a very happy man in Darryl “The Skull Man” de Ruiter from Texas A&M University. De Ruiter is a world authority on skulls and it seems his focus has moved from the earlier skull pieces to the new find.

The only other clue to what the find entails came from a tweet by paleo-anthropologist John Hawks (@johnhawks), who said they had now found “at least four jawbones with sets of teeth”.

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