New sediba bones found

2012-07-12 18:01

Cape Town - Scientists will share their discoveries of more remains of an early type of human in a rock at the Cradle of Humankind online.

In 2008, Professor Lee Berger caused sensation among palaeontologists and anthropologists when he announced that his son, 9-year-old Matthew discovered an early type of hominin at the Malapa site.

The Australopithecus sediba fossil was later dubbed Karabo ("Answer" in Setswana).

On Thursday, scientists will share new discoveries via the use of virtual technology.

"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur [thigh bone], ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," said Berger.


The newly discovered bones give scientists more information on the fossils.

"This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock. It’s a big day for us as a team and for our field as a whole," Berger added.

Since its discovery in 2008, the site of Malapa has yielded well over 240 bones of early hominins representing more than five individuals, including the remains of babies, juveniles and adults.

These fossils shed critical light on human evolution and recently Berger announced that the team comprising 80 scientists had found food stuck in the teeth of the fossil.

The University of the Witwatersrand, the Gauteng Provincial Government and the South African national government announced that the process of exploring and uncovering these fossil remains would be conducted live and conveyed to the world in real time.

"We are proud to be part of this programme which proves that Gauteng is indeed a world-class city-region at the forefront of scientific discovery and technological development," said Gauteng MEC for economic development, Qedani Mahlangu.

Not all scientists are convinced of the age of the fossils and Paul Renne of the Berkeley Geochronology Centre in California questioned the conclusions of the team.

He conceded that the uranium-lead dating is credible, but said that the cave's stratigraphy might not be complete enough to formally rule out a much younger paleomagnetic signal for the fossils.

Tim White, a paleoanthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley says that Australopithecus sediba is too different from the Homo genus and the shared characteristics could be due to normal variation among australopithecines.

"Given its late age and Australopithecus-grade anatomy, it contributes little to the understanding of the origin of genus Homo," White said.

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  • africanwolf - 2012-07-12 18:34

    They will eventually discover, that the Russians were here before the Koi and everyone else :) LOL

      Squeegee - 2012-07-12 19:25

      Malema's family will demand a reburial of their ancestors soon.

  • eddy.deepfield - 2012-07-12 18:39

    This is great for South Africa and another nail in the creationists coffin. Evolution is backed up by fossil evidence of common decent.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-12 19:40

      squeegee.pilot BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! An infantile clown who believes in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, zombies flying through the air and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, tell someone else to grow up.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-13 06:14

      squeegee pilot You coward. You post nonsense here and when you get called on it you delete the comment. Pathetic, squeegee, really pathetic that you do not have the courage of your convictions.

  • Press - 2012-07-12 18:56

    Who are these so called Sediba's come lately . . .

  • enlightened.bowman - 2012-07-12 19:14

    No, no and no again. This has to be one of Malema's relatives. Fact is that evolution does not happen. What most likely happened here is that it is one of God's early experiments. He didn't like it, removed it and tried something else. This happened several times until about 6000 years ago, he finally came up with us and decided to house us. The remains surely must just be a leftover from those tests. He was satisfied when he came up with the only known creature that kills for pleasure, destroys it's own environment and has the arrogance to think it is unique.

      zaatheist - 2012-07-12 19:41

      Evolution is a simple fact. We can choose to remain ignorant of it, we can stick our fingers in our ears and refuse to think about it, we can even rail against it and shout and scream that it is not allowed to be true. But facts are facts, and will not go away just because we don't like them. We don't get to vote for our preferred method of having come into existence as a species, any more than we can choose to have been delivered by stork rather than conceived and born in the usual way. - Paula KIrby

      zaatheist - 2012-07-12 19:44

      It always amuses me that the mental challenged who still believe in the infantile stories of God and Jesus like to name themselves as "rational", or "enlightened" in a futile attempt to appear that they actually have questioned their preposterous and infantile beliefs.

      mbossenger - 2012-07-12 20:23

      "What most likely happened here is that it is one of God's early experiments. He didn't like it, removed it and tried something else" - I do hope this is a joke - why would omniscient god have to experiment? He would know the outcoem is advance, wouldn't he?

      mbossenger - 2012-07-12 21:25

      "Zaatheist, do you not believe in God's existence?" - There's a hint in his name....

      Kirchner Van Deventer - 2012-07-13 08:37

      I think most of the respondents missed the note of irony and sarcasm in this comment...

      jody.beggs - 2012-07-13 10:13

      And the sarcastic award goes too ...

  • wesleywt - 2012-07-12 19:22

    While the fools are fighting with each other in the opinions section, science quietly moves on leaving them further behind.

      scott.kirby.752 - 2012-07-12 20:36

      Bravo good sir!!! Best comment I have ever seen on News24, I'm stealing it:)

      eddy.deepfield - 2012-07-12 22:09

      These discussions are not for the fanatics that would believe there Bible even if it said that Jonah ate the whale. No, it is for the doubting Thomas who are growing day by day as science demolishes superstition. So keep them coming.

      Phillip - 2012-07-13 12:11

      WT" Given its late age and Australopithecus-grade anatomy, it contributes little to the understanding of the origin of genus Homo," White said." Science quietly moves on yeah right.

  • Philip Buys - 2012-07-12 20:01

    Where is the showerhead?

      Steven Trollip - 2012-07-12 20:45

      eating streetwise pap probably!!!LOL

  • gawie.vandermerwe.7 - 2012-07-12 20:31

    Wow, another piece of the puzzle! We live in exciting times. Congratulations to the team of "diggers" and thank you News24 for sharing this in an unusually understandable and coherent way, including references to sceptical scientists. The latter is a healthy ingredient in the scientific process to keep it honest and trustworthy.

  • Steven Trollip - 2012-07-12 20:44


  • nicholas.j.may.3 - 2012-07-12 23:25

    Excellent find indeed! Lee Berger is definitely somebody to be very proud of as a South African Paleoanthropologist. The Australopithecus Sediba finds are very exciting indeed. Sometimes you see fossil articles and discoveries of new planets etc on back pages and small corners of newspapers and magazines (when the main news was " Famous Golfer scratches butt cheeks") I do sometimes wonder if the majority of folks even find Paleoanthropology vaguely exciting, which really puzzles me, but then again a lot of people would rather watch "The Bold and the Beautiful" and read fashion and movie magazines than read real stories about real "actual" exciting finds and discoveries. I have been following the debate between Creation and Evolution and also realised that there are a huge amount of people who cannot actually digest anything that is made up of more than three syllables or has a chemical formula/latin name, has a theory as to how something occurred or how some things may have happenned. Dont people want to know how geology/animals/plants/air/gadgets/magic tricks and everything else work? Without seeming to be arrogant or superior(as I quite like to be an idiot sometimes) I would be scared to test the average IQ of many of the religious folks that argued on the debate, as the average seems to be in negative figures...they cannot read one sentence of figures without going blank? (I am sure there are intelligent Christians that are very embarrassed on this debate too)

      Phillip - 2012-07-13 12:12

      "Given its late age and Australopithecus-grade anatomy, it contributes little to the understanding of the origin of genus Homo," White said."

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