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Our Oldest Ancestor: Putting Meat on the Bones

The hand bones of an adult female Au. sediba

The hand bones of an adult female Au. sediba as they were found in the matrix at Malapa, South Africa: An almost complete right hand was found clustered together with the rest of the upper limb. © Peter Schmid, courtesy of Wits University

By Paul Dirks

Last year scientists thought they had found the “missing link” in the evolution of apes to humans. Now they have dated the fossils precisely between the last occurrence of Australopithecus and the first members of the genus Homo, and described anatomical features that suggest it is indeed a transitional species.

Paul Dirks is Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University. This article was first published in The Conversation (

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