Google Earth Helps Scientists Uncover Ancient Human Ancestor

Posted Apr 9, 2010

Google Earth, the globe mapping software created by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has helped scientists find a hominid fossil that is about 2 million years old. This discovery is known to be one of the biggest palaeoanthropological finds. In March 2008 Professor Lee Berger of Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg started to use Google Earth. to map caves and fossil deposits. Below is an excerpt from the Google Earth Blog written by Chief Technology Advocate Michael Jones:

“At the beginning of this project, there were approximately 130 known cave sites in the region and around 20 fossil deposits. With the help of the navigation facility and high-resolution satellite imagery in Google Earth, Professor Berger went on to find almost 500 previously unidentified caves and fossil sites, even though the area is one of the most explored in Africa. One of these fossil sites yielded the remarkable discovery of a new species, Australopithecus sediba. This species was an upright walker that shared many physical traits with the earliest known species of the genus homo ? and its introduction into the fossil record might answer some key questions about our earliest ancestry in Africa.”