A new species of hominid has finally been unveiled at Maropeng, in the Cradle of Humankind, lifting a veil of secrecy that has lasted for over a year and a half. Today’s groundbreaking announcement was attended by the great and the good of academia, government and South African society.
The fossilised remains of Australopithecus sediba, believed to be almost 2-million years old, took centre stage at today’s launch, even though they spent most of the event safely under a blue satin cover. The man behind the discovery, Prof Lee Berger, shared the podium with his colleague, Dr Paul Dirks, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and University of the Witwatersrand Vice-Chancellor Loyiso Nongxa.
Prof Lee Berger took to the microphone, describing the process that led to their discovery as a “grand adventure” by some 60 scientists from all corners of the world.
“One of the most common questions a child asks when they are first capable of reason is, ‘Where do I come from?’ It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the answer to that question is ‘Africa – your ancestors are from Africa,” said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the unveiling of the new Australopithecus sediba fossils.
Renowned palaeoanthropologist, Professor Phillip Tobias.
Matthew Berger who, in August of 2008, visited the site that would change their lives forever.
L-R Meshack Kgasi, Danny Mithi and Bongani Nkosi were the excavators that helped in unearthing the Sediba fossils
Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said, “No other country in the world can boast the oldest evidence of life on Earth extending back more than 3-billion years, the oldest multi-cellular animals, the oldest land-living plants, the most distant ancestors of dinosaurs… , and, together with several other African countries, a most remarkable record of human origins and of human achievements through the last 8-million years.”
Dr Paul Dirks took the audience through the methods he used to explain what had happened to the pair and explained the significance of the skeletons’ articulation.
Prof Lee Berger and some of his team that unearthed two of the most complete early hominid skeletons ever found – one male, one female; one young, one older.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane
A young boy known only as Gabriel heard about the unveiling over the radio and asked his parents to take him to Maropeng immediately, where he got the lucky opportunity to get a photo taken with Prof Berger and the skull of Australopithecus sediba.
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- Maropeng hosts the unveiling of an unprecedented fossil discovery
- The Sediba fossils on display at Maropeng
- The story of Australopithecus sediba
- Lee Berger: the man behind the Sediba fossils
- Exciting new fossil discovery published in pre-eminent journal, Science