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Australopithecus sediba after the hype


With headlines like “Caveman from 2m years ago may be missing link“, the world’s media made a field day of some recent work on Australopithecus sediba. For those with a memory, it has all happened previously in 2010. The announcement was made in the journal Science that the evolutionary path “From Australopithecus to Homo” had been found. Consequently, the media trumpeted the significance of the bones to their readers (see here). You had to read carefully to realize that hype and science were being confused. Move on to the present and the newly reported research: the journal Science carried three News Focus stories and five scientific papers on the fossils. This was picked up by the popular science journals (New Scientist: South African fossils halfway between ape and human) and the press (as in the Telegraph “Caveman” headline quoted above). Just like last year, the hype was the message (see here). After this flurry of excitement, we are starting to get a more nuanced assessment – this blog is based on a News & Views piece in Nature by Fred Spoor.
For more, go here.

Furthermore, also in Nature is a thought-provoking book review by Henry Gee on another dimension of the human evolution story, blogged here.


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