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A fossil skull probably of the genus Homo from Sterkfontein, Transvaal


A skull with numerous Homo features was discovered at Sterkfontein, near Krugersdorp, Transvaal, in August 1976. It stems from member 5 of the Sterkfontein Formation, with stone tools and with fauna pointing to an age of 2.0–1.5 Myr. The underlying member 4 contains Australopithecus africanus, no stone tools, and fauna dated 3.0–2.5 Myr. The new find supports the view that the Sterkfontein toolmaker was not the earlier A. africanus, but a later hominid related to Homo habilis.

By a remarkable double coincidence, the first pieces of the new skull, Stw 53, were found on August 9, 1976, 40 years to the day after Robert Broom's first visit to Sterkfontein, while the last part came to light on August 17, the 40th anniversary of Broom's first discovery of a hominid cranium at Sterkfontein. Although most of the fragments were found in a decalcified pocket of cave earth, one large part of the calvaria was still present in the calcified wall of the pocket, thus establishing indisputably the provenance of the specimen.

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Hughes, A., Tobias, P. A fossil skull probably of the genus Homo from Sterkfontein, Transvaal. Nature 265, 310–312 (1977).

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