|The newly discovered fossil hand |
of Australopithecus sediba
Its pelvis, ankles and feet show that it was capable of proper upright strides, possibly even running, a characteristic that defines our genus. Other evidence was discovered in the hands. The extraordinary manipulative skills of the human hand is also a hallmark of our species. The recently discovered fossil hand has a longer thumb than its ancestors which suggests that it evolved to be able to grip tools and other such objects with opposable thumbs. These theories are backed up by new discoveries of arm and wrist bones.
|The 3D computer rendering of an |
Australopithecus sediba skull
The brain of Australopithecus sediba overall was closer to that of a human than an ape or ancient hominid. The human brain is around 4 times the size of that of a chimpanzee. While Australopithecus sediba's brain only had a volume 40 cubic centimetres, larger than that of a chimp, it had a surprising mix of characteristics which make it a likely ancestor to later members of the human genus, which would give rise to our species. Scientists believe that its brain evolved as a result of its advanced pelvis and hands.
|The skull of Australopithecus sediba is actually closer |
to that of the later hominid Homo ergaster in shape, size
and facial sloping
The next few years may be very exciting for the fields of palaeoanthropology and human evolution as Australopithecus sediba's place within our family tree is re-examined. Its abnormally advanced cranium, pelvis and hands do indeed provide strong evidence for its place as the ancestral form to our species. More tests will be conducted alongside comparisons with other hominid skulls both early and late in hominid evolution. In just a few years, another piece of the human evolutionary puzzle may be solved.