Fossil finds offer close look at a contested ancestor

Discoveries flesh out a species proposed as the root of humankind's genus

By Bruce Bower, 12:30 PM September 8, 2011

Newly discovered fossils provide the closest look yet at an anatomically quirky, 2 million-year-old member of the human evolutionary family. Discoverers of the ancient bones suspect they come from a species that served as an evolutionary bridge from relatively apelike ancestors to the Homo genus, which includes modern people.

Four papers published in the Sept. 9 Science describe a mosaic of humanlike and apelike skeletal traits on Australopithecus sediba, a recently proposed hominid species...

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