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WATCH: 3.5 million year-old fossil 'Little Foot' unveiled

07 December, 11:49 AM

After 20 years of excavating, cleaning, reconstructing and casting, the oldest virtually complete human ancestor in South Africa was finally unveiled on Wednesday.

The skeleton of Little Foot, who wasn't so little at the time of her death, was unveiled at the University of Witwatersrand's Evolutionary Studies Institute.

The man behind the epic discovery, Professor Ron Clarke, said Little Foot was nicknamed by Professor Phillip Tobias.

"If that one small bone wouldn't have been found then we wouldn't have Little Foot," he said.

He described the discovery as being "one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research”.

Clarke said every hominid fossil that was discovered was important to the understanding of our ancestors.

Clarke, who began his paleoanthropology career in Kenya in 1963, said Little Foot was by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor, older than 1.5 million years, ever found.

It is also the oldest fossil hominid in Southern Africa, dating back 3.67 million years.

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