New Dates for Little Foot
Monday, March 17, 2014
PARIS, FRANCE—A new geological study of the Sterkfontein caves in Gauteng, South Africa, concludes that the nearly complete Australopithecus prometheus skeleton known as Little Foot is at least three million years old. Ron Clarke, Stephen Motsumi, and Nkwane Molefe of the University of Witwatersrand spent 13 years extracting the skeleton from the rock of the cave so that they could understand how it had been encased in the hard, calcified sediment. According to a report in Science Now, the scientists found that the skeleton had been disturbed and broken, and that it would have taken at least one million years to fill in the spaces between the bones with minerals carried by water flowing through the cave. The flowstone itself has been dated to 2.2 million years old. The new, older dates suggest that Little Foot could be a Homo ancestor.
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