An anthropology professor from South Africa has successfully used Google Earth to find a new human ancestor.
To be exact, he found two partial skeletons, dating from between 1.78 and 1.95 million years ago, that belong to the species now known as Australopithecus sediba.
“Professor Lee Berger from Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg started to use Google Earth to map various known caves and fossil deposits identified by him and his colleagues over the past several decades,” according to the Official Google Blog.
Berger developed a correlation between the appearance of caves in satellite images and the presence of fossil deposits.
He started with 130 cave sites in the region around the Cradle of Humankind area northwest of Johannesburg, and about 20 fossil deposits. Using Google Earth’s high-resolution satellite imagery, he was able to identify 500 previously unidentified caves and fossil sites. It was at one of those sites he found the new hominid.