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Evolution of Early Man?by Dalene Ingham-Brown

According to a report by Reuters, a 2 million-year-old fossil of a part-human, part-ape species, was found. The being had hands and ankles much like that of a human, however its brain was small but advanced. Found in a cave north of Johannesburg, the fossils may serve to change views on the origins of humans. The fossil displays a list of anatomical features which have never been seen before, but which show how close this species links to human beings.

Could this point to the evolution of early man? "The many very advanced features found in the brain and body, and the earlier date make it possibly the best candidate ancestor for our genus, the genus Homo, more so than previous discoveries," said Lee Berger, at the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Berger and a team of experts examined the site where the fossils were found.

The hand, hip bone and ankle bones have been well preserved and are paving the way for further research and discovery. "This is giving us insight, that isn't guesswork into an area of anatomy that is crucial and critical in how human walking evolved," Berger said of the foot and ankle bones. The hand discovered can be describes as human-like, attached to an ape-like arm. The fossil indicates that the hand had a precision grip which would have come in handy for making tools, said Tracy Kivell, a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute, and a member of the team. The brain of the being was the size of a grapefruit and now opens the door to re-discover theories about brain enlargement in human development. The site was discovered in August 2008 and since then 220 bones have been found of these early hominids.

Photo by Paleontology Suite 101

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