#3. A New Human Ancestor
We’re not experts in archeology, but when it comes to digging up bones, apparently caves are where it’s at. Over the Christmas holiday of 2007, Professor Lee Berger was at his computer, looking around for caves with, you guessed it, Google Earth. Having noticed a pattern of cave and fossil sites in the region around the Cradle of Humankind near Johannesburg, he went on to identify 500 new possible places old bones could be buried.
Fast forward to August of 2008, where he was subsequently exploring one of his Google Earth finds in person with his 9-year-old son, the family dog and a post-doctoral student (take a guess on who was most likely wearing a red shirt on this away mission), when the dog ripped off into the high grass.
Chasing after his dog, the boy tripped over a log and fell smack dab into what some call “the Rosetta stone of human evolution.” (Okay, it’s totally Dr. Berger who says that.) What his son literally stumbled over would turn out to be an estimated 2-million-year-old fossil, part of a fossil pair belonging to a boy and an adult female, the likes of which had never been seen before.
With a small, advanced brain, long arms, long legs and an advanced pelvis, Australopithecus sediba is described as probably a transitional species between Australopithecus Africanus and Homo habilis.
The newly discovered species could even be a direct ancestor of Homo erectus, making it a possible “missing link” of sorts, located right at the transition point between an ape running around on two legs when not swinging in trees and humans as we are today.