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Google Earth helps unearth new human species in South Africa

April 8, 2010 | 11:35 am

Google Earth has helped paleoanthropologists discover a human species that pre-dated our "genus Homo" ancestors, the search giant announced Thursday.Hominid2

According to Google, professor Lee Berger at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg used Google Earth over the last two years to locate more than 500 previously undiscovered "caves and fossil sites" around the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.

Based on Berger's findings, scientists searched the newly discovered sites and, much to their surprise, discovered a new human species.

Dubbed "Australopithecus sediba," the species "was an upright walker that shared many physical traits with the earliest known species of the genus Homo." Although their findings are preliminary, scientists believe that the species could provide valuable insight into human ancestry.

-- Don Reisinger

Photo: Australopithecus sediba fossils. Credit: Google