Over the past few centuries, many examples of ancient human ancestors found. Most of the time the skeletal remains were not complete but this time scientists reveal the most complete skeleton. The most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years has been found by archaeologists.
Nicknamed “Little Foot”, the skeleton which was discovered by Professor Ron Clarke of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, is thought to be 3.6 million years old.
In the human evolutionary chain known as Australopithecus, this skeleton, one of the oldest human ancestors, is a very important complete example .
Meet “Little Foot” – The Early Forerunner of Humans
“By far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found”
Initially, in the mid 1990s, miners blasting into the area to gather lime found portions of the fossilized skeleton.
Having found the bone fragments in the rock, researchers went into the cave for finding additional fossil evidence and by 1997 they were sure they had discovered something amazing.
Then in the next 20 years, Researchers have discovered the entire skeleton, removed it from the Sterkfontein cave system, and for their big debut, which took place today archeologists prepared the well-preserved bones.
Clarke says: “This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance today – the process required extremely careful excavation in the dark environment of the cave.”
“Once the upward-facing surfaces of the skeleton’s bones were exposed, the breccia in which their undersides were still embedded had to be carefully undercut and removed in blocks for further cleaning in the lab at Sterkfontein.”
To reveal all the details, the team led by Clarke is preparing a series of scientific papers – with two decades worth of study on the fossils. Those papers are expected to come over the course of the next year or so, but today’s announcement of the fossil’s existence is already enough to excite many.
Surely the discovery of this complete skeleton will help to reinforce many of the theories of human evolution that pin Africa as the cradle of humanity.