CRF Blog

Part Ape, Part Human

by Bill Hayes

In Part Ape, Part Human, National Geographic reports on the “richest collection of fossil skeletons ever found.”

At an international gathering of anthropologists in Minneapolis this past April, Berger and his colleagues laid out arguments for why the Malapa species, known as Australopithecus sediba, may represent an intermediate form between the primitive australopiths and our genus, Homo. The evidence they point to includes an australopith’s little brain (with some curiously modern features), apelike shoulders, and arms adapted to climbing in trees—attached to a bizarrely modern hand with the precision grip of a toolmaker. According to the researchers, the adult female’s foot presents an even odder melange; her mostly modern ankle is connected to a heel bone more primitive than that of A. afarensis—Lucy’s species—which is at least a million years older.

In a science known for its contentiousness, such a claim will surely not go unchallenged. But no one disputes that the Malapa fossils are unprecedented. [more]