Meet Au. Sediba: The Best Candidate for an Ancestor to the Homo Species

Fossils from South Africa of the Australopithecus sediba display a unique mix of primitive and modern, human-like features

Is the Australopithecus sediba our ancestor? New research in the journal Science suggests so, as high-resolution scans and uranium-dating tests reveal that this hominin exhibited primitive as well as human-like traits and existed around the same time early Homo species first walked the Earth.

"The many advanced features found in the brain and body, along with the earlier date, make it possibly the best candidate ancestor for our genus," says Lee Berger, the project leader from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a news release.

Berger and his colleagues discovered the remains of a juvenile male (MH-1) and an adult female (MH-2) Au. sediba in one of the caves of Malapa in South Africa last year. Several uranium-dating tests and high-resolution synschrotron X-ray scans of the nearly complete fossils of pelvises, hands, and feet suggest that the Au. sediba is about 1.977 million years old. Until this discovery, fossils of the Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis dated to 1.90 million years ago have been considered ancestral to Homo erectus, the earliest undisputed human ancestor.

In the gallery below, see images of the Au. sediba's fossils, behind-the-scenes photos of experiments, and visualizations of this remarkable species's human-like features.

Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

More in Health

Just In