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