Scientists from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg claim to have discovered the ‘missing link’ between humans and apes that they believe could revolutionise our understanding of how we evolved.
The scientists discovered a two-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a child in South Africa, which they believe to be an entirely new species and an intermediate stage between our ape—like ancestors and modern man reports dailymail.co.uk.
Professor Phillip Tobias, an anthropologist at the university, said that the discovery was a “wonderful and exciting” find.
“To find a skeleton as opposed to a couple of teeth or an arm bone is a rarity. It is one thing to find a lower jaw with a couple of teeth, but it is another thing to find the jaw joined on to the skull, and those in turn uniting further down with the spinal column, pelvis and the limb bones,” he added.
The discovery, along with a number of other partially complete fossils, could now help scientists understand how our ancestors evolved from the apelike Australopithecus, which emerged in Africa around 3.9 million years ago, to Homo habilis, the first human—type species which appeared around 2.5million years ago.
Simon Underdown, an expert in evolution from Oxford Brookes University, said: “A find like this could really increase our understanding of our early ancestors.”