Notorious Bones

South African finds enter fray over origins of the human genus

By Bruce Bower, 14:59 PM July 30, 2013

Almost 2 million years ago in what’s now South Africa, a boy and a woman fell through a hole in the ground into an underground cave, tumbling about 50 meters to their deaths.

Then things got interesting. A storm soon washed the partly decomposed bodies a few meters into a subterranean lake or pool. Much like quick-setting concrete, moistened soil rapidly hardened around the corpses and preserved the unfortunate duo’s bones.

A couple of thousand millennia later, partial skeletons of the roughly ...

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