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Rock with skeleton of prehistoric man discovered

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 13th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A discovery of a large rock containing remnants of a skeleton of an early human ancestor is believed to be the remains of 'Karabo', the type skeleton of Australopithecus sediba, first discovered at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009. A formal announcement is expected shortly at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in Shanghai, China.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Professor Lee Berger from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg is scheduled to make the announcement.

Berger, a Reader in Palaeoanthropology and the Public Understanding of Science at the Wits Institute for Human Evolution is visiting China as part of a South African delegation promoting trade, business and tourism relations between the two competitive city regions, Gauteng and Shanghai.

"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," Berger says.

"This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock. It's a big day for us as a team and for our field as a whole," he noted.

The skeleton was discovered almost three years ago but remained unnoticed in the Wits laboratories until early last month.

Prof. Berger along with his wife Jackie Smilg, a radiologist at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, scanned the large rock in a state of the art CT scanner.

For the first time in history, the process of exploring and uncovering these fossil remains would be conducted live, captured on video, and conveyed to the world in real time, allowing members of the public and the scientific community to share in the unfolding discovery in an unprecedented way.

 "The public will be able to participate fully in Live Science and future discoveries as they occur in real time - an unprecedented moment in palaeoanthropology. The laboratory studio will be also linked to laboratories at Wits University and the Malapa site," Berger says.

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