World 'Little Foot' skeleton goes on display in South Africa

21:36  06 december  2017
21:36  06 december  2017 Source:   AFP

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Discovered about 20 years ago by paleoanthropologist Ronald Clarke from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa , Little Foot apparently fell down a narrow shaft in the Sterkfontein Caves. This left behind a nearly complete skeleton that could yield key insights on human evolution.

Ever since the discovery of Little Foot in a cave in South Africa during the early '90s, researchers have argued about the age of the human-like skeleton with proportionately tiny feet , and an unusual skull. A new record, with weeks to go before the year is up.

The Little Foot fossilised hominid skeleton is the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years yet discovered: The Little Foot skeleton is the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years yet discovered. © Provided by AFP The Little Foot skeleton is the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years yet discovered.

The most complete skeleton ever found of an australopithecus, a forerunner to modern man, went on display for the first time in Johannesburg on Wednesday after a 20-year process to excavate and assemble the 3.67-million-year-old remains.

Known as "Little Foot," because four small foot bones were the first to be discovered, the skeleton is the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years yet discovered. It will now be available for public viewing at Wits University in Johannesburg.

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Little Foot has finally been recovered from a cave in South Africa MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images. Eventually, on 6 December 2017, the entire skeleton went on display at Wits University Evolutionary Studies Institute.

" Little Foot " (Stw 573) is the nickname given to a nearly complete Australopithecus fossil skeleton found in 1994–1998 in the cave system of Sterkfontein, South Africa .

"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 today," said Ron Clarke, the Wits University academic who discovered Little Foot.

Australopithecus — Latin for "southern ape" — are considered to be either closely related to, or the ancestors of, modern man, with a mixture of ape-like and human characteristics.

The reconstruction process revealed that the australopithecus had a skeleton far closer to that of humans than previously thought and actually walked upright instead of on its hands and knees.

"What Little Foot shows is that the pictures you see in books of our ancestors coming up and walking on all-fours, gradually getting more and more upright is all nonsense," Clarke told AFP.

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Little Foot is a big deal. Not only is this rare and wonderfully preserved skeleton the most Little Foot , a member of the Australopithecus genus, was unearthed 21 years ago in a cave at Sterkfontein, South Africa . When the rock goes underground, the atoms begin to decay at a known rate, which

“ Little Foot ” is by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found. It’s also the oldest ape fossil in southern Africa , dating back 3.67 million years. The remains – discovered 20 years ago at the Sterkfontein Caves near Johannesburg – have now gone on display

Clarke made the discovery from among fossils that had been taken from the Sterkfontein caves, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, in 1994 and 1997.

Palaeoanthropologist Professor Ron Clarke says © Provided by AFP Professor Ron Clarke says "Little Foot" is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries in the history of human origins research.

He then dispatched a team to probe the cave complex to search for the rest of the skeleton.

The complex is housed within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which has been an incredibly rich source of artifacts for paleontologists since it was first discovered.

"The process required extremely careful excavation in the dark environment of the cave," Clarke said .Some 25 academic articles will be written in the coming years on the basis of the now concluded reconstruction process, Clarke added.

Experts believe that the skeleton belonged to a young girl who fell 20 meters to her death in the cave.

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