Two million years ago in South Africa, part-human and part-ape-like individuals existed -- and now we know what they looked like and how they behaved: They had a primitive, pigeon-toed gait, human-like front teeth, ate mostly veggies and spent a lot of time swinging in the trees.
The species, Australopithecus sediba, is a striking example of human evolution, conclude six papers published in the journal Science. Taken together, the papers describe how Au. sediba looked, walked, chewed and moved.
"Sediba shows a strange mix of primitive australopithecine traits and derived Homo traits -- face and anterior dentition like Homo, shape of the cranium like Homo, other parts of the face and size of the cranium like an australopithecine, arms like an australopithecine, pelvis and lower limbs like Homo and feet and ankles like an australopithecine," project leader Lee Berger told Discovery News.
"It does look like a good 'transitional' fossil, doesn't it?" added Berger, who is a researcher in the Wits Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. He named the species, which was found at a site called Malapa, near Johannesburg.