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Observations

Debate Flares over Identity of Celebrated Human Fossils

Australopithecus sediba lower jaws

CALGARY—In 2010 paleoanthropologists announced to great fanfare that they had recovered from a South African cave two partial skeletons of a previously unknown member of the human family that lived nearly two million years ago. The skeletons—a young male and an adult female referred to as MH1 and MH2, respectively–were said to exhibit a striking melange [...]

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Observations

Horse Fossil Yields Astonishingly Old Genome—Are Similarly Ancient Human Genomes Next?

Horse fossil

Researchers have recovered DNA from a nearly 700,000-year-old horse fossil and assembled a draft of the animal’s genome from it. It is the oldest complete genome to date by a long shot–hundreds of thousands of years older than the previous record holder, which came from an archaic human that lived around 80,000 years ago. The [...]

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Observations

Is Australopithecus sediba the Most Important Human Ancestor Discovery Ever?

Australopithecus sediba

Three years ago researchers added a new branch to the human family tree: Australopithecus sediba, a nearly two-million-year-old relative from South Africa. By all accounts it was a dazzling find—two partial skeletons, an adult female and young male, from a site called Malapa just outside Johannesburg. And it has been making headlines regularly since then [...]

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Observations

CT Scans Reveal Early Human Fossils inside Rock

Two Australopithecus sediba skeletons from Malapa

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m obsessed with a recently discovered member of the human family tree: the nearly two million-year-old Australopithecus sediba, discovered at a site called Malapa near Johannesburg.  There are several reasons for this fixation. For one thing it’s new—it isn’t every day that a previously unknown human relative [...]

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Observations

Was Australopithecus sediba Polygamous? Paleontologist Answers Reader Questions about New Early Human Fossils

Lee Berger

During a recent reporting trip to South Africa for a forthcoming feature article on a new fossil human species called Australopithecus sediba, I asked readers to submit their questions about this dazzling find. Inquiries about the nearly two-million-year-old hominin–which has been held up as a possible ancestor of our genus, Homo–came in via Twitter, Google Plus [...]

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Observations

Is This Your Long-Lost Ancestor?

Australopithecus sediba skull

In the spring of 2010, the world met Australopithecus sediba, a nearly two-million-year-old human relative whose remains were found at a site just a short drive from Johannesburg, South Africa. By all accounts, it was an extraordinary discovery: two beautifully preserved partial skeletons–a juvenile male and an adult female–with the promise of more individuals to [...]

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Observations

Early human fossils from South Africa could upend long-held view of human evolution

MINNEAPOLIS—It’s a great irony of paleoanthropology that for all the insights scientists have been able to glean from the fossil record about our early ancestors, the australopithecines (Lucy and her kin), they have precious little to document the origin of our own genus, Homo. They know that Homo descended from one of those australopithecine species [...]

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