On Wednesday, some researchers from The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, have unveiled what they called the most complete human ancestor skeleton that is older than 1.5 million years. The Australopithecus specimen is indeed almost fully complete and is 3.6 million-years old. Now that they have something to work with, researchers are hoping to find out more about how these ancestors looked like and how they moved and behaved.
The skeleton was discovered in the Sterkfontein caves, about 25 miles from Johannesburg. Initially, the researchers only noticed some small foot bones in the rock miners blasted, hence the nickname “Little Foot”. According to the team, it took about two decades for the remains to be fully excavated, cleaned, reconstructed and then analyzed. Professor Ron Clarke led the team who took care of the fragile skeleton.
The incredible “Little Foot” skeleton finally displayed
— Lopang Alamu (@LopangAlamu) December 6, 2017
According to Robert Blumenschine, who is the chief scientist of the Paleontological Scientific Trust, the organization that funded the excavation, Africans should be very proud because of this amazing discovery. The excavation proved that Africa is the cradle of life, the place where the oldest human ancestor remains were found. This is not only heritage for the people from all over the world, but the source of our abilities that make us human like our intellect, our artistic traits and out technological progress.
The Little Foot ancestor most probably belonged to a young girl who fell down a shaft in the Sterkfontein caves. Little Foot is also about 500.000 million years older than our most famous ancestor, the skeleton called Lucy.
Scientists have long debated where humans actually came from. There are many theories regarding this, but Little Foot may now prove that we indeed came from the Cradle of Humankind.
Image source: wikimedia