A new dating of the Sterkfontein cave, with 500 Australopithecus remains, gives them an age of more than 3 million years.
In the long line of the predecessors of the human race, the australopithecines discovered in South Africa were a bit of a band apart. These small, primitive bipeds, able to walk upright easily but still comfortable in the trees, looked a lot like their East African cousins, the Australopitecus afarensis, the most famous of which is Lucy. But they were supposed to have lived more than 1 million years later, 2.1 to 2.6 million years ago. A huge time lag which, oddly, made them contemporaneous withHomo habilis and D’Homo rudolfensis, the first known representatives of the genus Homo discovered in East Africa. Another major problem: how to explain the last dating at the very remote age of 3.67 million years of Little Foot, the most complete Australopithecus skeleton ever found, in South Africa?
The idea of a very young age for South African Australopithecines (A. africanus) takes the lead in the wing with a study published this…