Saturday, January 29, 2011 | By: Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Nine-Year-Old Accidentally Discovers a New Species of Human Ancestor

skull photo

Junior archaeologist stumbles on huge clue to humans' past

Imagine taking a stroll through the environs of South Africa - when suddenly, your toe is nearly stubbed on an evolutionary key to our human past.

That's precisely what happened Wednesday, when 9-year-old Matthew Berger spotted a fossilized collarbone of a child who lived almost 2 million years ago. As reported today on, Berger had wandered from his father's side only to come across an intriguing-looking bone sticking up out of a rock, then called out to him that he had found a fossil.

Ironically, his father Lee was conducting a formal archaeological dig just 15 yards away. Father and son had temporarily traveled to South Africa's Cradle of Life region for the purpose.

Matthew's discovery points to a new species of hominid according to scientists, and may be the missing link between us and our ape-like ancestors. Most of us remember Lucy, a 3.2 million year-old set of bones discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 - but this latest fossil comes from a time that isn't as well-documented, a time that researchers believe to be a significant turning point in evolutionary history: when the earliest members of the genus Homo were entering the world.

The collarbone was the bone that caught Matthew's eye, but several more remains belonging to the 2 million-year-old child were quickly recovered. A member of the species "Australopithecus sediba," it is one of the most complete sets ever found. And right next to it lay another nearly complete set of remains was found, those of a 30-year-old female - what scientists believe may have been the child's mother.

Both mother and child demonstrate long arms that suggest ape-like tree-climbing ability, but human-like legs that could allow them to move on two feet. They appear to have been discovered in a place once home to a body of water, and if a severe drought had hit mother and child's home, water might have indeed been what they were searching for. As such, the bones were out of reach from scavengers - hence, their unusual preservation.

The kicker? The ancient boy was roughly the same age as Matthew. Talk about having a long-lost twin.


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