Special CollectionAustralopithecus sediba

INTRODUCTION—The site of Malapa, South Africa, has yielded perhaps the richest assemblage of early hominin fossils on the continent of Africa. The fossil remains of Au. sediba were discovered in August of 2008, and the species was named in 2010. In 2011, detailed studies of four critical areas of anatomy of these remains were published in Science, and a refined date of ~1.977 to 1.98 Ma was proposed for their age. In 2013, Science presents six articles that complete the initial examination of the prepared material attributed to three individuals: the holotype and paratype skeletons, commonly referred to as MH1 and MH2, and the adult isolated tibia referred to as MH4. They, along with the cumulative research published over the past 3 years, provide us with a comprehensive examination of the anatomy of a single species of early hominin.


From Science — 12 April 2013

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Dental Morphology and the Phylogenetic "Place" of Australopithecus sediba

Dental traits in Au. sediba suggest that the species is part of a southern African clade, and distinct from east African australopiths.
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Mandibular Remains Support Taxonomic Validity of Australopithecus sediba

Au. sediba mandibles share features of those of other australopiths, but in some respects are similar to those of early Homo.
 
Research Article

The Upper Limb of Australopithecus sediba

The upper limb of Au. sediba is largely primitive in its morphology and appears well suited for arboreal climbing.
Research Article

Mosaic Morphology in the Thorax of Australopithecus sediba

Remains of the rib cage of Au. sediba suggest a conical thorax with a high shoulder joint and an ape-like "shrugged" shoulder appearance.
Research Article

The Vertebral Column of Australopithecus sediba

Au. sediba had the same number of lumbar vertebrae as modern humans but possessed a functionally longer and more flexible lower back.
Research Article

The Lower Limb and Mechanics of Walking in Australopithecus sediba

The lower limb anatomy of Au. sediba is consistent with bipedalism and a hyperpronating gait.
 

From Science — 9 September 2011

News Focus

Skeletons Present an Exquisite Paleo-Puzzle

Partial skeletons of 2-million-year-old hominin Australopithecus sediba leave researchers impressed by their completeness but scratching their heads over the implications for our family tree.
News Focus

Paleoanthropologist Now Rides High on a New Fossil Tide

After a career marked by controversy, Lee Berger hopes new hominin fossils will salvage his mixed scientific reputation.
News Focus

Little Foot, Big Mystery

After nearly 15 years of excavation, the most complete hominin skeleton ever discovered, dubbed "Little Foot," is expected to be out of the cave in which it was discovered within the next 2 months.
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The Endocast of MH1, Australopithecus sediba

The brain endocast of Australopithecus sediba shows that despite retaining a small brain size, some reorganization of the frontal lobe had commenced, hinting at the later neural development seen in Homo.
 
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A Partial Pelvis of Australopithecus sediba

Although it had a small brain and skull, Australopithecus sediba shows some human-like features in its reconstructed pelvis.
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Australopithecus sediba Hand Demonstrates Mosaic Evolution of Locomotor and Manipulative Abilities

The hand of Australopithecus sediba, a rare example in the hominid fossil record, shows short fingers and a long thumb consistent with improved precision gripping while retaining strength for climbing.
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The Foot and Ankle of Australopithecus sediba

Australopithecus sediba had a human-like ankle and arch but an ape-like heel and tibia, implying that while bipedal, this species was also adept at climbing trees.
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Australopithecus sediba at 1.977 Ma and Implications for the Origins of the Genus Homo

Further U-series dating and the magnetic stratigraphy of the hosting cave deposits show that Australopithecus sediba lived just under 2 million years ago, near or just before the emergence of Homo.
 

From Science — 9 April 2010

News of the Week

Candidate Human Ancestor From South Africa Sparks Praise and Debate

Researchers describe a group of fossils found since 2008 in Malapa cave north of Johannesburg and dated as early as 2 million years ago, which they say may be the best candidate yet for the immediate ancestor of our genus, Homo.

Video reconstruction of Au. sediba skull, provided by Lee R. Berger.
 
Research Article

Australopithecus sediba: A New Species of Homo-Like Australopith from South Africa

A new species of Australopithecus, about 1.9 million years old, shows many derived features with Homo, helping to reveal its evolution.
Research Article

Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa

A new species of Australopithecus, about 1.9 million years old, shows many derived features with Homo, helping to reveal its evolution.
 


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