Australopithecus sediba (aw-stral-o-PITH-eh-cus seh-DI-ba), a human-like primate with an estimated brain capacity of a third of that found in modern Homo sapiens, is the center of ongoing debates in the scientific community because of the possibility of its being an evolutionary bridge to the Homo genus in the hominid family. Facsimiles of two fossilized specimens of this controversial species will be coming to James Branch Cabell Library for an exhibit running from August 6 through December 18. The specimens, one a child and the other an adult, will allow library visitors to compare their own physical forms to the nearly 2-million-year-old fossils. Opportunities to examine the differences between humans today and A. sediba in terms of brain size, diet, and other aspects of life will be explored in the exhibit. The exhibit will also walk visitors through the possible cause of the deaths of the specimens, their relationship to each other, and the challenge of preserving them for the future.
Discovered only very recently, in 2008, at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa, A. sediba has been a source of interest for scientists in the fields of anthropology, paleontology, and geology. They argue that it offers a new set of possible implications in the study of evolution and could shed light on how early humans migrated from Africa to other continents.
The exhibit is on display on the first floor of James Branch Cabell Library. It is open during all normal library hours. The exhibit is made possible by a partnership among the VCU Anthropology Program in the School of World Studies, the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine and the International Institute for Human Evolutionary Research.