Human fossils found with Google Earth

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Human fossils found with Google Earth

Pinpoints 500 new archaeology sites.

The discovery of the fossil remains of some of mankind's earliest ancestors was made possible by the use of data collected via Google Earth.

Professor Lee Berger, from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, discovered the new species, dubbed Australopithecus sediba, in the Cradle of Humankind National Park in South Africa.

The area has been much explored over the years, but Professor Berger began tagging sites with fossil remains on Google Earth in May 2008 and using the images to identify new cave systems.

Professor Berger was able to identify almost 500 new caves and potential fossil sites.

Up until that point there were only 130 known cave sites in the region and around 20 fossil deposits.

"Professor Berger has used Google Earth and its global coverage of high resolution satellite data to identify curious locations in South Africa, which have resulted in the discovery of important historical findings that affect all humans everywhere on our planet," said Michael Jones, chief technology advocate at Google.

"One of the most satisfying things about this type of discovery is that it inspires further discoveries by the next generation of explorers, particularly among children and students who realise that questions have answers that can lead to great understanding."

Australopithecus sediba is thought to have lived around 1.9 million years ago, and was among the first species of hominid to walk on two legs.

The two incomplete skeletons, a juvenile male and an adult female, show an advanced pelvis that could allow for running, and shorter arms similar to modern humans'.

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