martes, 20 de septiembre de 2016

The Fossil That Rewrote Human Prehistory


The distorted, and fragmented skull of fossil specimen TM 1511 provided the first clues to what an adult "ape-man" might look like Credit: Image by and courtesy of Jason Heaton
 
Exactly 80 years ago, paleontologists found the first solid evidence that the human lineage arose in Africa

In August 1936, Robert Broom, a Scottish doctor with a keen interest in paleontology, visited a lime quarry in South Africa called Sterkfontein. In a guidebook at the time, the owner of the site, wrote, “Come to Sterkfontein and find the ‘missing link.’” It would not be long before Broom did just that.

On Broom’s third visit to Sterkfontein, the quarry’s manager George Barlow presented him with a lump of calcified sediment in the shape of a brain, complete with convolutions and venous patterns. It was of modest size, but was certainly bigger than that of a monkey or other animal whose fossils were commonly found in the caves of the area. He soon located much of the cranium as well as many of its associated teeth and determined the pieces represented a fossil human called an ape-man.

At the time, the only other example of an ape-man was the “Taung Child” skull. [...] Scientific American Blog Network

Los huesos que nos enseñaron que veníamos de África
El ser humano venía de Europa o, como mucho, de Asia. Obvio. ¿De dónde podía venir si no? Algunos científicos, como Darwin o Huxley, habían sugerido que, dada la distribución de los grandes simios africanos (que se parecían bastante a nosotros, anatómicamente hablando), lo más probable es que nuestros ancestros hubieran vivido en el África tropical...