Rare an­cient skele­ton on show

The Press - - World -

SOUTH AFRICA: Re­searchers in South Africa have un­veiled what they call ‘‘by far the most com­plete skele­ton of a hu­man an­ces­tor older than 1.5 mil­lion years ever found’’.

The Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand dis­played the vir­tu­ally com­plete Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus fos­sil yes­ter­day.

The skele­ton dates back 3.6 mil­lion years. Its dis­cov­ery is ex­pected to help re­searchers bet­ter un­der­stand the hu­man an­ces­tor’s ap­pear­ance and move­ment.

The re­searchers say it has taken 20 years to ex­ca­vate, clean, re­con­struct and an­a­lyse the frag­ile skele­ton.

The skele­ton, dubbed Lit­tle Foot, was dis­cov­ered in the Sterk­fontein caves, about 40km north­west of Jo­han­nes­burg when small foot bones were found in rock blasted by min­ers.

Pro­fes­sor Ron Clarke and his as­sis­tants from the univer­sity found the fos­sils and spent years to ex­ca­vate, clean, an­a­lyse and re­con­struct the skele­ton.

The dis­cov­ery was a source of pride for Africans, said Robert Blu­men­s­chine, chief sci­en­tist with the or­gan­i­sa­tion that funded the ex­ca­va­tion, the Pa­le­on­to­log­i­cal Sci­en­tific Trust (PAST). –AP

PHOTO: AP

Pro­fes­sor Ron Clarke speaks dur­ing the un­veil­ing of a vir­tu­ally com­plete Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus fos­sil called ‘‘Lit­tle Foot’’ in Jo­han­nes­burg.

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