de Ruiter adds that the findings "show very strong support of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection."
The team used a method called morphometrics that uses math and 3-D models to form a precise replica of the jawbones of species of Australopithecus and early Homo, but showing distinct differences in size and shape between them. In addition, they were able to demonstrate the growth trajectory from a juvenile to an adult form was unlike that of any other hominin species known, further supporting the unique appearance of Australopithecus sediba.
In 2012, several of these same researchers, including de Ruiter, proved that Australopithecus sediba had a forest-based diet of leaves, fruits, nuts and bark, one similar to that of a present-day chimp. The diet of early Australopithecus is a key component central to the study of human origins.
The team's work was funded by the South African National Research Foundation, the Palaeontological Scientific Trust, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellowship, the National Geographic Society, the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities and the International Research Travel Assistance Grant of Texas A&M, and the Ray A. Rothrock '77 Fellows Program in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M.About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $700 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. More news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamutimes.tamu.edu/ Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamu/