The Malapa site, South Africa’s “Cradle of Humankind,” was famously discovered by accident by nine-year-old Matthew Berger as he chased after his dog.
The findings help fill a gap in humankind’s history, sliding in between the famous 3-million-year-old skeleton of “Lucy” and the “handy man” Homo habilis, which was found to be using tools between 1.5 and 2.1 million years ago.
They show that early humans of the period “spent significant time climbing in trees, perhaps for foraging and protection from predators,” according to the study in the journal “Paleoanthropology.”
“This larger picture sheds light on the lifeways of A. sediba and also on a major transition in hominin evolution,” said lead researcher Scott Williams of New York University.
The researchers of the paper to highlight the remarkable story of how the fossils were found, pointing out that other dramatic clues to humanity’s history are still waiting to see the light of day.
Sediba was discovered by Matthew Berger, then a nine-year-old, who happened to stop and examine the rock he tripped over while following his dog Tau away from the Malapa pit,” they wrote.
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