Researchers have confirmed the age of possibly our oldest direct human ancestor at 1.98 million years old.
The discovery was made after researchers conducted further dating of the early human fossils, Australopithecus sediba, found in South Africa last year.
A series of studies carried out on newly exposed cave sediments at the Malapa Cave site in South Africa, where the fossils were found, has assisted researchers to determine their more precise age at 1.98 million years old, making the Malapa site one of the best dated early human sites in the world.
"Knowing the age of the fossils is critical to placing them in our family tree, and this new age means that Australopithecus sediba is the current best candidate for our most distant human ancestor."
"The results of these studies present arguably the most precise dates ever achieved for any early human fossils," she said.
It appears the fossils were deposited in the Malapa Cave during a 3,000-year period around 1.98 million years when the Earth's magnetic field reversed itself by 180 degrees and back again.
List of papers in Science. Judging by the list of co-authors, I would hazard a guess that this research was funded and supported (directly or not) by public money from institutions across several continents. This may have been money well-spent in advancing science, but it is Science that will now profit from it, for nothing more than providing a glorified web-hosting service. The public must pay once more, either directly to Science or by inconveniencing itself with a trip to a Science-subscribing library, if there is one nearby.
This is as good a place as any to plu the open science Malapa Soft Tissue Project.