SOUTH African scientists claimed overnight to have uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, hidden in a rock excavated from an archaeological site three years ago.
The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the newly identified Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, are the "most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered," according to University of Witwatersrand paleontologist Lee Berger.
"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," said Professor Berger, a lead expert in the finding.
The latest discovery was made in a one-metre-wide rock that lay unnoticed for years in a laboratory until a
technician incidentally saw a tooth sticking out of the black stone last month.
It was then scanned to reveal significant parts of A.sediba, whose other parts were discovered in 2009 in the world-famous Cradle of Humankind north of Johannesburg.