Friday, April 29, 2011

Lee Berger on Australopithecus sediba

Daily Web Day has a story on Lee Berger's comments at the recent American Association of Physical Anthropologists' convention. The author writes:
The researchers said that the hominin shows some surprisingly modern traits and its species may even be an ancestor of our own genus.

“We really have found something very, very odd and very unexpected,” Science Now quoted discovery team leader Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, as saying.

But other paleoanthropologists are waiting for more detailed analysis of the still-unpublished fossils before they agree on its identity or place in the human family tree.

According to new dates reported by Berger in his talk at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), the four hominin individuals died when they fell into a “death trap” in a cave about 2 million years ago at Malapa, South Africa.
The growing concensus is that A. sediba shows up just after the appearance of Homo but that it may have been on a line that gave rise to the genus Homo. The curious thing is that there is scant evidence of Homo in South Africa but quite a bit in East Africa. In East Africa, however, there are only robust australopithecines that overlap with early Homo for a good 800,000 years. I will side with those that want more evidence first.

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