New Hominid – New media frenzy?

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that a new hominid had been discovered in South Africa (Missing link between man and apes found – Telegraph).  Apparently the discovery is of a skeleton (or, as it turns out from a quotation from Phillip Tobias skeletal remains from several individuals) and this is quite exciting since hominid fossils are usually pretty fragmentary. Apparently the fossils represent an intermediary between Australopithecus and Homo habilis and are about 2 million years old. There’s to be an announcement on Thursday, followed by a TV series.

The find is deemed to be so significant that Jacob Zuma, the South African president, has visited the university to view the fossils and a major media campaign with television documentaries is planned.

This all sounds a little familiar – remember the Darwinius masillae frenzy (see Darwinius masillae and Darwinius masillae – the BBC World Service gets it…)?  Hopefully this fossils will live up to the promise. The eminent human anatomist and anthropologist Phillip Tobias, who is one of the few scientists to see the fossils, is certainly excited, and is quoted as saying:

He said: “To find a skeleton as opposed to a couple of teeth or an arm
bone is a rarity.

“It is one thing to find a lower jaw with a couple of teeth, but it is
another thing to find the jaw joined onto the skull, and those in turn
uniting further down with the spinal column, pelvis and the limb bones.

“It is not a single find, but several specimens representing several
individuals. The remains now being brought to light by Dr Berger and his
team are wonderful.”

All very exciting, and I’m looking forward to Thursday already!

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