Part Ape Part Human- The Fossils of Malapa

Part Ape Part Human- The Fossils of Malapa

The video Part Ape Part Human is narrated by Lee Berger who is a paleoanthropologist by profession. Lee begins by trying to delve into important discoveries of human remains which have shaped our perception in regards to the origin and evolution of human beings. In his endeavors to try and collect as many fossils as possible lee Berger narrates that he had to adopt a new technology called the hand-held GPS which can bring objects to the surface. However, the objects have to be within a radius of 15 meters underground. The new technology is a milestone for anthropologists because it provides satellite images with 30-meter pixels on the earth surface. However, such photos cost about $10,000 which is expensive and only recommended for research purposes. Lee continues to outline that most famous human discoveries have been discovered in South Africa in a place just outside Johannesburg called “the cradle of humankind”.


I believe that through Lee’s teaching one can clearly understand the critical role that anthropologists play towards the discovery of the origin of humanity. Anthropology is a complex profession as compared to other occupations since an anthropologist has to endure different sorts of hardships to make viable discoveries. In this field, a scientist in most cases is expected to travel to different parts of the globe in search of answers which renders as a step closer towards determining where man came from. However, it is essential for anthropology to have the appropriate skills to effectively evaluate a site to ensure that he or she is in a position to identify different objects which are crucial in determining the origin of humans. Like lee anthropologists need to invest in research which gives them the necessary knowledge and funding to conduct any field excursions. From the video, it was good to know that the first human remains were discovered in southern Africa. This is where most scientists spent their time trying to identify and analyze fossil remains, and that is why it is currently referred to as the cradle of humankind.


Lee continues to state that the region was the first to be explored by other scientists for human fossil remains. The scientists include Philip Tobias who have made tremendous steps towards discovering the true origin of human beings.  The cradle of humankind has been in existence since 1935 forming one of the most abundant sources of human fossils. The area has about 100 cave sites, 16 fossil sites which were in life before Lee’s discoveries. However, within three years, Lee managed to discover four new fossil sites and between 25 to 30 caves which had not been found by anyone yet.


From the video, I made crucial discoveries that I’ve only been reading about in textbooks. First and foremost, I discovered that the cradle of man has been in existence long before 1935. This shows that even before the 19th century scientists have been working very hard to ensure that they know and ascertain the true origin of human beings. However, some discoveries during the 19th century did not necessarily prove the existence of human beings. This is because during these years there was no advanced technology to identify and distinguish different sites. This made it difficult to analyze a particular place effectively. However, nowadays there are advanced machines and techniques which have made anthropology easy and fast. Still, scientists need to ensure that they have the appropriate education to ensure that they are in an excellent position to identify and analyze a cave or fossil site. On the other hand, I also believe that money lending research organizations also play a crucial role in ensuring that they offer appropriate funding to ensure that the researcher gets the proper tools to conduct research.


According to Lee Berger, Paleoanthropologists face more obstacles as compared to other scientists. This is evident through the high population of anthropologists as compared to their discoveries.  This is because most scientists spend a lot of time in the field without any significant development. This has ensured that any tiny fragments discovered by anthropologists very crucial. Most of these fossils and artifact’s rarity has assured that any slight discovery made by anthropologists is treasured.  Lee continues to note that in December 2007, his development of Google earth made his expeditions easy and fast. Google earth can pinpoint any location on the surface with the correct longitudes and latitudes stated.  However, Lee is careful to note that The United States ensured that no particular area could be accurately mapped to provide that people don’t use technology for military purposes.


I support Lee through his statement that anthropologists face many obstacles in their career. This is because anthropology requires patience and a lot of research to come up with viable data and research materials. All these factors require time and funding, and therefore anthropologists need to work extra hard to ensure that they meet their objectives. This concept has made any discovery no matter how small crucial to any anthropologist. In most cases, such small discoveries lead to more significant discoveries which get us closer towards discovering the origin of human beings through effectively analyzing their remains.

Additionally, scientists have something to smile about as a result of technology which makes their work easy and fast. These discoveries involve Google Earth which can pinpoint any particular location on the earth’s surface. This makes identification of sites and mapping easy because the technology also extends below the ground to show any objects that might be lying 15 meters below the ground.


In addition to that, Google earth zooms a particular GPS location on earth.  This made it easy for Lee to determine the patterns and distributions on the earth’s crust containing fossil fuels in voluntary associations and showing different cave locations in a general and aerial view.  In March 2008, through 3G card technology, two new fossil sites were discovered, and 600 previously unidentified caves and 40 previously unknown fossil sites were found as Lee quotes. This was a tremendous step because it ensured that scientists made some steps towards the discovery of the origin of humankind.  It is essential to note that all these discoveries were produced within one month.


I believe that the core technology behind Google earth was initially for intrinsic gaming and that is why the technology has good images and simulations. The computer program makes it easier to showcase different earth locations in 3D representations using satellite imagery. The software maps different locations on the earth surface through superimposing different images from the satellite, aerial photographs and GIS data on the earth. The data is then converted into a 3D representation allowing users to view different countries and towns from any angle. Users have the opportunity to enter different coordinates and addresses using a keyboard or mouse and the software pins the specific location. The software also provides tools for viewing mars and the moon on its desktop application. I believe that the discovery and invention of Google earth is one of the best innovations of the century. However, the invention is perceived by some as a threat to national security and privacy making it banned in most countries.


Lee further iterates that some of his discoveries were so abrupt that he was also shocked. For instance, one discovery made on caves was sudden. For the last seven years, he had been using the same road and never noticed a track of limestone leading to the cave. The mines were believed to have been blasted in the 19th and early 20th century.  However, through a keen analysis and observation of the area, he was able to see a path that animals broke through leading to the discovery of a 2.5 meters hole in width and 2 meters deep with 30metres long tree clusters. However, ancient scientists used to use Blazin to blow up the caves and therefore it was difficult locating the cave and its artifacts.


From Lee’s perception, I acknowledge that most fossil or cave sites are discovered when a scientist least expects it. Therefore, it is always essential for a scientist to be prepared for anything before going to the field to carry out research. This makes it easier for a researcher to analyze any situation in the area effectively. Scientists should also ensure that while they are blowing up a site, they don’t conceal any crucial information. Therefore, I believe that this requires a thorough analysis of a site before performing any blast. It was funny to learn that the Australopithecus sediba was discovered in a place that had been analyzed by researchers, but they missed the spot. This should be an encouragement to anthropologists to Always ensure that they conduct proper research and analysis of any field at their disposal.


On the 15th of August lee continues to outline that they discovered 46 new caves alongside his Kenyan Anthropologist called Job and his nine-year-old son called Mathew.  Within the same area, Mathew was able to determine the fossil remains just beside a bolt of lightning struck the tree. The discovery was one of the essential developments in the century. This is because Lee was able to seek permission from South African authorities to continue with the expedition which later on led to the discovery of the Australopithecus sediba.  The cave site contained mandibles, skulls, jaws and upper limb bones which were believed to be from the Australopithecus sediba. By September 3rd Lee had received the permit to further his research in the cradle of humankind. This led to the discovery of more scapula, teeth and thigh bones  of Australopithecus sediba.  However, the Australopithecus sediba had long hands, and therefore there was a probability that they were climbers. However, the species had a hook which can be compared to homo sapiens. This was the only discovery made with hands fitting those of human beings. Australopithecus sediba lacked curvature and was more advanced than homo habilis.


I believe that Lee Berger is among the best Anthropologists in the world. This is evident through his numerous discoveries which have changed our perceptions about the origin of humankind. His most recent discovery of the Australopithecus sediba altered the course of evolution since there were no previous discoveries like that. Australopithecus sediba showed a certain resemblance to human beings and was more advanced as compared to Homo habilis. However, according to Lee, it is essential to ensure that one receives the relevant permission before conducting or carrying any discoveries from a fossil or cave site. However, recent developments have shown that traditional discoveries of human evolution are wrong. This is because more scientist has discovered other remains in other parts of the world other than Africa which prove that there was life there. 


I have learned that as human beings we have not fully discovered earth. Therefore, we still need to conduct more research on the ground to ensure that we clearly understand the origin of human beings. Through the use of the latest technology discovering different sites on earth has been made easy. The latest technology ensures that we can have a simulation of the planet making it easy to locate different sites and patterns on the piles of the earth surface. Therefore, it is essential for anthropologists to ensure that they are in a position to identify and evaluate sites.


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