A. sediba is a splendid transitional fossil

A man holding a small, semi-human fossil skull

Lee Berger with A. sediba

Look at the quiet, yet awed, delight on this palaeontologist’s face. That is the reward of science. He has been analyzing two almost complete skeletons of Australopithecus sediba found together in South Africa.

Another gap in human evolution has been decisively filled. Australopithecus africanus, discovered by Raymond Dart in the 1930s, was a climbing, ape-like hominid. Homo habilis and Homo erectus were human-like and apparently tool–using. A. sediba seems to be right between them. It has longer legs than A. africanus and walks bipedally. It has features found in both A. africanus and H. habilis. Its hand is more like our own than is that of H. habilis. Carl Zimmer explains: The verge of human. Between this fossil and Ardipithecus ramidus, we seem to be getting a grasp on ape evolution.

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