lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

Have scientists unearthed the world's oldest human SKIN?

Skull Australopithecus sediba

Fossilised skin belonging to a prehistoric human ancestor that lived two million years ago is thought to have been discovered among the remains of six skeletons.

Anthropologists believe they have found the preserved skin tissue of an early human species known as Australopithecus sediba in an ancient cave near Johannesburg, in South Africa.

It could be the oldest example of human soft tissue to ever be found and is set to reveal new details about what this now extinct species of human was like.

Scientists who have been leading the excavation, which began with the discovery of the remains of a 4ft 2 inch tall male juvenile in 2008, believe they have also found the remains of the ancient humans' last meals still preserved in their teeth.

They say seeds and other food particles that became stuck in the creatures' teeth have been preserved.

Professor Lee Berger, an anthropologist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who has been leading the excavation, said: 'We found out this wasn't just a normal type of rock that they were contained in - it was a rock that was preserving organic material.

'Plant remains are captured in it - seeds, things like that - even food particulates that are captured in the teeth, so we can see what they were eating.

'Maybe more remarkably, we think we've found fossil skin here too.' Professor Berger, who made his comments in an interview with the Naked Scientists, discovered the first remains of Australopithecus sediba in 2008 after his son Matthew stumbled upon a fossilised bone in the Malapa Nature Reserve near Johannesburg. [...]

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