Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
  1. AirPods Pro Prime Day Deal
    11:46 Deals

    AirPods Pro are back in stock at Amazon after selling out – and they’re $52 off

  2. Early Prime Day Deals
    08:06 Deals

    10 incredible early Prime Day deals that are about to end at Amazon

  3. Best Prime Day TV Deals
    16:38 Deals

    Best Prime Day TV deals: Samsung, LG, Vizio, and more

  4. Roomba Prime Day Deals
    11:20 Deals

    Amazon’s early Prime Day Roomba deals are so good, they’re starting to sell out

  5. Best Prime Day Apple Deals
    12:00 Deals

    Amazon Prime Day 2021: Best Apple deals

Scientists reveal the most complete skeleton of a 3.6 million year old human ancestor ever found

December 6th, 2017 at 1:08 PM
human ancestor

Archaeologists have found many, many examples of ancient human ancestors over the past few centuries, and while most of the time the skeletal remains are at least identifiable, they’re rarely complete. In a remarkable reveal by researchers scouring South Africa, the most complete example of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years has been found, and by “older” I mean a lot older.

The skeleton — which has been nicknamed “Little Foot” by its discoverer, Professor Ron Clarke of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa — is thought to be a whopping 3.6 million years old. That makes it one of the oldest human ancestors found, while also being the most complete example of the link in the human evolutionary chain known as Australopithecus.

Portions of the fossilized skeleton were initially found way back in the mid 1990s by miners blasting into the area to gather lime. The bone fragments that were discovered in the rock led researchers into the cave in the hopes of finding additional fossil evidence, and by 1997 the team knew they had found something amazing. In the two decades since, archeologists have uncovered the entire skeleton, removed it from the Sterkfontein cave system, and prepared the well-preserved bones for their big debut, which took place today.

“This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance today,” Clarke says. “The process required extremely careful excavation in the dark environment of the cave. Once the upward-facing surfaces of the skeleton’s bones were exposed, the breccia in which their undersides were still embedded had to be carefully undercut and removed in blocks for further cleaning in the lab at Sterkfontein.”

With two decades worth of study on the fossils, the team led by Clarke is preparing a series of scientific papers to reveal all the details. Those papers are expected to come over the course of the next year or so, but today’s announcement of the fossil’s existence is already enough to excite many. The finding will surely help to reinforce many of the theories of human evolution that pin Africa as the cradle of humanity.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

Popular News