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Australopithecus sediba: No such thing as a missing link

Autralopithecus sediba is not the missing link that connects modern man to its more primitive ancestors.

Australopithecus sediba: No such thing as a missing link
Skull of Australopithecus Sediba [Credit: WikiCommons]
The fossils that were found 10 years ago by Palaeoathropologist, Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand, and his son Matthew, at Malapa in the Cradle of Human Kind in South Africa, has recently been described as the so-called "missing link" in human evolution, after the publication of new research by a team of international researchers that confirmed the unique species status of Sediba. This research has been misinterpreted by some sectors, creating the idea that Australopithecus sediba might be the "missing link".

This perception is incorrect, as there is no such thing as a "missing link" in human evolution, says Professor Berger in an informative video, released by Wits University.

"The image of human evolution on T-shirts is incorrect. I would prefer that we forget the term 'missing link'," says Berger, who is currently on expedition at the Rising Star cave, also in the Cradle of Human kind, where the other famous human ancestor, Homo naledi, was found.

Berger explains that human evolution is not a linear process, where one species evolve into another, but rather follows a process similar to a braided stream, or river delta, where a stream might branch off into its own direction, or later flow back and join a different stream, which might "evolve" into a new species.

Source: Wits University [January 25, 2019]


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1 comment :

  1. Of course, there are no real "missing links", just as there are no "cradles of humankind". Paleo-anthropologists working in East-Africa say the Rift is our "Cradle", PAs working in South-Africa believe the Sterkfontein & Makapansgat Valley is our "Cradle".
    PAs generally assume that there was a direct transition for arboreal to terrestrial, from quadrupedal to bipedal.
    But primates that evolve from arboreal to terrestrial (or from forest to open terrain) tend to become more pronograde & quadrupedal (e.g. savannah baboons), almost the opposite of the evolution of bipedality we see in human evolution.
    IOW, a direct transition from more to less forested terrain was unlikely, and certainly, the traditional savannah hypothesis is completely.
    In the say way, we didn't evolve from chimp-like ancestors (the old anthropocentric view), but chimpansees, bonobos & humans had the same common ancestor 5 mill.yrs or so, which was probably mostly intermediate morphologically (mosaic evolution) between extant Homo & Pan (though likely more chimp- & esp. bonobo- than human-like).
    In fact, paleo-environmental, comparative, nutritional & other data all independently suggest there was an intermediate phase between arboreal & terrestrial in shallow-aquatic milieus (wetlands, lakes, coasts) where our ancestors might have frequently waded bipedally, much like bonobos or lowland gorillas that sometimes wade bipedally in forest swamps in search for wetland or littoral foods (google illustrations at "bonobo wading" & "gorilla bai").
    We suggested this already years ago, e.g. in Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Verhaegen & Munro 2002 TREE 17:212-217) & in Human Evolution (Verhaegen 2013 Hum.Evol.28:237-266). For an update + refs, google "ape & human volution 2018 Verhaegen".


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