1924. Near the village of Taung (South Africa) found "skull Taung child", whose age is estimated at 2.5 million years, and is credited with an extraterrestrial origin.
One day a young woman from South Africa saw the fireplace in the house of his friend something to remind her skull extinct baboon. The lady was interested in fossils and could not get past the strange "exhibit." She asked her friend where he got the remains of a baboon. He said he owns from the quarry, which is 10 km from Taung, which by then was in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. When blasted limestone in the quarry, the rock sometimes bared fossils.
The skull was one of them. Only unlikely, said a friend, he belongs to an ape, as in South Africa, yet no one ever find their remains. The woman was a rare special meticulous and at the first opportunity to tell about what he saw his friend, Professor of Anatomy Dr Raymond Dart. The scientist then taught at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Dart has agreed with the friend of women to apes – they really have never met in South Africa. But what about the baboons he was prepared to argue as much as necessary: these great apes are well adapted to a terrestrial (not wood) way of life in the arid areas, which is that edge. They lived in South Africa, hundreds of thousands of years ago and are found today.
Dart set about trying to see the fossil of their own eyes. He asked the owner of the quarry to do him a favor: if you caught the new fossils to send them by mail.
Time passed, and one day in 1924 Dart received a hefty package – two large drawers with fragments of limestone. In the first Darth not find anything interesting, but when he opened the second, his joy knew no bounds. In the box was a round piece of limestone, with the background of rough debris. Dart recognized him endocast. Since the language of scholars called the relief on the inside of the skull, showing the large drawing furrows gyri and cerebral vessels.
It was obvious that this endocast formed naturally: once molten rock to fill the inner cavity of the skull and hardened in it, exactly reproducing the size and shape of the long-gone brain. According to Dart, "on the surface of the stone are clearly visible gyrus and sulcus of the brain blood vessels." Raymond Dart knew what to say, a native of Australia Queensland studied at Sydney University and University College London Anthropology. His trained eye immediately identified: a skull in the explosion broke during the extraction of limestone. That is, until recently, he was unharmed.
Piece of work
To start anthropologist decided that before it endocast baboon. But I soon realized that rushed to judgment. The brain was too big for the baboon, in addition, different in form. Then who does he belong to? Chimpanzee or gorilla? Possibly. After all, these apes are more advanced than baboons intelligence and larger brains.
Suddenly it dawned on Darth: why not assume that in the past in South Africa lived hitherto unknown, now extinct apes? He began frantically rummaging through a box of rocks, trying to find a piece that would fit a mold of the brain. If he did, he would have possessed themselves skull. But then at the door of his office loudly and insistently knocking.
This knock back Darth from heaven to earth. He recalled that it was today appointed his best friend's wedding, where Darth volunteered to serve as best man. With barely looking up from his favorite fossils, Raymond had to hurry to the wedding ceremony. But in the evening, after returning from a wedding, rushed into the room and a minute later holding a piece of rock, which exactly match the endocast.
Staring at this second fossil, a scientist to realize that looks inside a small head. Turning fossil other side to see the front part, Dart discovered she crusted limestone mixed with sand and gravel. This tight tsementopodobny material called breccia, did not allow to consider the characteristics of the facial skeleton. Darth knew the person can be seen if you remove it from the hardened remains of the rock.
Anthropology – not paleontology. Dart just about imagine how to shoot breccia. But he wanted at all costs to get to the truth, and so armed with the necessary tools and set to work. As it turned out, he was going in the right direction. No idea how fragile the skull will, fear of damaging its sharp chisel blows, Darth fossil placed in a box with sand for stability and cushioning. Then he took a little bit, and began as a sculptor, carefully cut off all unnecessary. When Darth hit the crudest pieces, in turn went spoke of his wife, which he honed by making one side triangular. With this needle Raymond sliver piece by piece, and in seventy-three days fossil was completely cleared.
Within two months of hard work Raymond Dart and then wondered whose skull will appear before them in the end. The result exceeded all expectations! Skull probably belonged to six year old child! His mouth was full of baby teeth. Molars, which usually appear in person to six years, but began to erupt. The fact that the skull belonged to baboons, not out of the question. Too high and it was round, while the face was more like a human. And the fangs are specific to baboons and chimpanzees to gorillas, were absent.
Turning over the find, Dart drew attention to an interesting feature: the foramen magnum, allowing you to exit the spinal cord, located on the underside of the skull. This clearly points to the fact that the child walked upright on two legs. Baboons and chimpanzees that hole is closer to the back of the head – this is only the structure of the skull of animals moving on all fours. So maybe it's just a bipedal ape? But this is contrary to all scientific ideas! Habitat of great apes was two thousand miles from Taung. Then what is it? Then Raymond dawned in his hands – the missing link, a transitional step from ape to man?
What scientist does not dream of a grand opening? That Raymond Dart in his 30-plus years dreamed of world-wide fame of the pioneer. And then she sent him a fortune in the hands of a grand discovery. Its just bursting with desire to tell the world about his discovery.
Anthropologist sat down and wrote an article in Nature – the authoritative British magazine, which published the most important results of scientific research. Dart later admitted that at that time was made of such findings are not disseminated and publish them could only ten years after the council of scientists from the British Museum and the other at least a solid organization will express a judgment about them. "But I was confident in my irrefutable conclusions."
The magazine noted the publication of an article of a young scientist, and soon readers learned of a new being – "Australopithecus africanus." What happened! Resonance was crazy. The new creature dubbed the "Taung baby" and Darth himself – his father or godfather. On the "Taung child" did not say just lazy. But when the scientists expressed their doubts on the conclusions of Darth, society came down on the young scientist, like a boa constrictor in the rabbit.
"Baby" became an overnight symbol of ugliness, and the reporters, recently dreamed of an interview with its discoverer, exercised their wits at "monster Taung." In the contest to include even a respectable London weekly Spectator («Witness") and the conservative newspaper Mogning Post («Morning Post"). The entertainers were playing with each other on the stage scenes music halls of Britain, "Look, who is this girl that I saw you last night? It comes not from Taung? "Composer composed a song dedicated to the monkey of the Transvaal.
In Parliament, which met in Johannesburg, one of the deputies, inflamed the debate, he turned to his opponent in the following words: "If this is true, in the words of an honorary member of the Taung … 'Outraged MPs addressed a strong protest to the chairman, who seriously called "honorary members to turn to other honorable members, because of their appearance."
Australopithecus became so famous that even traveled to South Africa Prince Uellsky graciously expressed desire to inspect the Taung skull. In Johannesburg, he patronizingly said: "In South Africa, I think of nothing more than not hear about the" baby "of Professor Dart!"
Blaspheme Raymond Dart took the church. It struck angry priests and religious fanatics. Here is one sample mail Darth those days: "How can you, with the gift of genius, invested in you by God, not a monkey, a creator of change and become an accomplice of the devil and his obedient instrument?" It finally came to place calls Darth in an insane asylum …
In 1936, the anthropologist Robert Broom discovered the skull of another "Australopithecus africanus" in Sterkfontein cave, near Johannesburg. The skull was incomplete (missing the lower jaw), it belonged to a female aged 15-16 years, so the remains was given the name "Miss Plez." The geological age of the finds was about 2.5 million years. "Taung Child" and "Miss Plez" were like a sculpted from a single test. Small head, just put to a short, strongly pushed forward neck, narrow shoulders, narrow low forehead, a small flattened nose – all spoke about their relationship.
From this point on the existence of Australopithecus was recognized by official science.
Opponents Darth finally fell silent, he could not rest on its laurels. Recently, however, doubts have reappeared. Ron Clarke and Lee Berger from the same University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, all the while trying to unravel the mystery of a strange creature, researching his remains.
In the end, concluded that the remains do not belong to man. According to them, Dart discovered … alien skull. The poor fellow did not die a natural death, as evidenced by the characteristic lesions on his skull. Such marks remain after falling on sharp rocks.
Ron Clarke and Lee Berger also 100 percent convinced that the humanoid was an adult, not a child. It is quite likely that his space ship landed badly or if the humanoid made a bad first step on a planet unknown to him. It is possible, "Taung child" was killed in an attack by a large bird of prey.
Step № 25 (December) 2012