Lee R. Berger, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Steven E. Churchill, Peter Schmid, Kristian J. Carlson, Paul H. G. M. Dirks and Job M. Kibii.
Author Affiliations: 1Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa. 2School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa3Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA. 4Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Box 90383, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA. 5Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland. 6Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. 7School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia.
Despite a rich African Plio-Pleistocene hominin fossil record, the ancestry of Homo and its relation to earlier australopithecines remain unresolved. Here we report on two partial skeletons with an age of 1.95 to 1.78 million years. The fossils were encased in cave deposits at the Malapa site in South Africa. The skeletons were found close together and are directly associated with craniodental remains. Together they represent a new species of Australopithecus that is probably descended from Australopithecus africanus. Combined craniodental and postcranial evidence demonstrates that this new species shares more derived features with early Homo than any other australopith species and thus might help reveal the ancestor of that genus. Science 328 (5975): 195-204.