- It's not certain whether this is a direct human ancestor or close relative.
- The skeleton was found at the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, the oldest ongoing paleontological dig in the world.
South African scientists said Thursday they had uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, hidden in a rock excavated from an archaeological site three years ago.
The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, constitute the "most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered," according to University of Witwatersrand palaeontologist Lee Berger.
"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," said Berger, a lead professor in the finding.
The latest discovery of what is thought to be around two million years old, was made in a three-foot (one meter) wide rock that lay unnoticed for years in a laboratory until a technician noticed a tooth sticking out of the black stone last month.