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    3 Million Years Old: Little Foot Is The Oldest Complete Australopithecus
    By News Staff | March 16th 2014 09:13 AM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    After 13 years of excavation of the nearly complete skeleton of the Australopithecus fossil named Little Foot, researchers conclude that it is probably around 3 million years old, refute previous dating claims that suggested it is younger. 

    The Sterkfontein caves of Gauteng, South Africa have been world famous since 1936 for producing large numbers of fossils of the ape-man Australopithecus. However, for sixty years, these fossils consisted only of partial skulls and jaws, isolated teeth and fragments of limb bones. These were obtained by blasting or drilling and breaking of the calcified ancient cave infill or by pick and shovel excavation of the softer decalcified infills.

    Questions arose about the age of these fossils, of how they came to be in the caves, and also of how a complete skeleton would appear. Then in 1997 Professor Ron Clarke from the University of the Witwatersrand, Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe of the University of the Witwatersrand discovered an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton with skull embedded in hard, calcified sediment in an underground chamber of the caves.


    Left foreharm and hand of Little Foot. Credit: Wits Unversity.

    They began to carefully excavate this skeleton in order to expose it in place in the cave and to understand the ancient processes that contributed to its burial and preservation.

    This was the first time that such an excavation of an Australopithecus has taken place in an ancient calcified deposit. During the course of this excavation, it became clear that the skeleton had been subjected to ancient disturbance and breakage through partial collapse into a lower cavity and that calcareous flowstone had subsequently filled voids formed around the displaced bones.

    Despite this fact being published, some other researchers dated the flowstones and claimed that such dates represent the age of the skeleton. This has created a false impression that the skeleton is much younger than it actually is.

    Little Foot: CREDITS Laurent Bruxelles Inrap

    A French team of specialists in the study of limestone caves, Laurent Bruxelles, Richard Maire and Richard Ortega, together with Clarke and Dominic Stratford of Wits University, have now shown that the dated flowstones filled voids formed by ancient erosion and collapse and that the skeleton is therefore older, probably considerably older, than the dated flowstones.

    Little Foot is probably around 3 million years old, and not the 2.2 million years that has been wrongly claimed by other researchers. The skeleton has been entirely excavated from the cave and the skull, arms, legs, pelvis and other bones have been largely cleaned of encasing rock.

    Professor Clarke has concluded from study of the skull that it belongs to Australopithecus prometheus, a species named by Professor Raymond Dart in 1948 on fragmentary ape-man fossils from Makapansgat in what is now Limpopo Province.

    Thus at Sterkfontein, there existed two species of ape-man, Australopithecus africanus (for example, Mrs Ples) and Australopithecus prometheus, many specimens of which have been identified by Clarke from two deposits at Sterkfontein.



    Article:  BRUXELLES L., CLARKE R. J., MAIRE R., ORTEGA R., et STRATFORD D. – 2014. - Stratigraphic analysis of the Sterkfontein StW 573 Australopithecus skeleton and implications for its age. Journal of Human Evolution. Journal of Human Evolution. Source: University of the Witwatersrand


    Comments

    But, is there evolution if there is no time? How will evolutionary biology meet new physical paradigms about time, space and so on? Will new conceptual changes deny evolution? Or on the contrary, will it become a more extraordinary process, full of astonishing implications? If so, will past human beings and the rest of living beings become different as science progresses? After all, is life something fix-finite-defined? That is, can one understand it by means of using a brain and its limited words? Does the whole of life fit into a bone box? Indeed, will science add indefinitely without understanding completely? Anyway, is it possible to understand something completely? Along these lines, there is a different book, a preview in http://goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion

    Hank
    If there is no time, there is no Internet and thus no comment, so biologists have nothing to fear from amateur philosophy.
    eh. Well you see, there is this fish called a sunfish that you can fish for in a lake, they are also in a river 2,000 miles
    away but they are a different color, dark like the river. 2,000 miles is one time zone away, so in terms of my timezone -5
    GMT; there is no evolution because I walked to the river myself. You are castigated by the next question my lige. lol I
    have no statistical evidence which outlines conceptual changes, such as the percentage of people who deny evolution and
    divorce rates. lol I agree it is an extrodianary process, my cousin is an invetro fertilized person who is strangely
    abstentatious; could be his father. I Belive science should make life easyer, yes. If life were not defined such as it
    were, there is no symetry to draw upon a hypothesis. Yes, I can understand everything with my brain. A bone box is thought
    provoking in so much as it is a dipravity, the pope said to honor charatible people which have an affect change of whatever
    the year is; yes. heheh

    Hank
    there is no evolution because I walked to the river myself.
    It's like saying cars don't exist if you know how to walk.
    Here come the evolution freaks again. It may take more time to debunk but as it happened with the ideology driven Global Warming the Evolution Theory will also be defeated.

    Global Warming has been defeated? If either of the two theories (heck, 3 theories, let's throw in gravity as well) are defeated it will be from ignorance not intelligence. Keep up the good work.

    Please read a little about this subject or take a course in basic anthropology. The only thing that will be defeated is ignorance.

    Thanks for the advice, but you haven't made a point. The subject of the article is fascinating, the comment that preceded mine was frightening.

    oops, itchy trigger finger.

    Now just to find the few transtional links from an one-celled organusm to this ape, and from this ape to the man.

    But . . . but . . . surely your post is prima facie evidence.

    News staff misses the big picture: Flowstones are proof of the Great Flood, no?

    Yeah, no. Flowstone in a cave is not evidence of anything other than water flowing down the wall of the cave.

    for god's sake people!
    get a grip! it's just an extinct ape.