New hominid skeleton named Karabo

A recently discovered juvenile hominid skeleton, of the new Australopithecus Sediba species, was given the name Karabo on Monday.

The name was announced during the seventh annual Standard Bank Past (Palaeontological Science Trust) key lecture at Wits delivered by Professor Lee Berger, whose nine-year-old son, Matthew, made the initial discovery of the historic fossil.

The name Karabo, which means “answer” in Setswana, was submitted by 17-year-old pupil Omphemetse Keepile.

Keepile — a pupil at St Mary’s school in Waverley, Johannesburg — was named the winner of the naming competition, entered by 15 000 pupils and students across South Africa.

In her presentation just before being announced the winner of the naming competition, Keepile said she chose the name Karabo because “it suggests that answers are present and that more answers will follow”.

“The fossil represents a solution to understanding the origins of humankind. It has helped researchers to seek much deeper into the information that they have and the information that they will acquire through this discovery,” she said.

“It has enabled them to broaden their former understanding of the concept of humankind.”

Karabo is a 1,95-million year old partial hominid skeleton, who would have been between nine and 13 -years-old when he died.

A part of the young fossil was first discovered by Matthew during an exploration project led by his father to map caves identified at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, near Johannesburg, in August 2008.

A second partial skeleton of an adult woman was also found in the same area.

Berger said the Sediba fossils were by far the most complete remains of any hominids found dating back to about two million years ago and was possibly one of the most significant palaeontological discoveries in recent years.

He said information already given to the media about the Sediba fossils since their discovery was the tip of the iceberg as researchers continued to make more discoveries. – Sapa

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