South Africa has long been considered the cradle of humankind—a status that is supported by the discovery of “Little Foot,” the country’s oldest (nearly) complete fossil human ancestor.
The fossil belongs to Australopithecus, and is by far the most complete human ancestor skeleton older than 1.5 million years. The fossil dates back 3.67 million years and was discovered by Professor Ron Clarke from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The nickname “Little Food” is based on the initial discovery of four small foot bones, which led to the amazing finding.
“This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance,” Clarke said.
Though the discovery was made 20 years ago, Clarke and his team spent two decades excavating and preparing the fossil—a tedious process sponsored by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST). Now his team is hard at work studying the specimen. The results are expected to be published in the near future.
“It is through important discoveries like Little Foot that we obtain a glimpse into our past which helps us better understand our common humanity,” noted Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Witwatersrand.
Source: ancient-origins, Science Daily