3.5m-year-old fossil unveiled in Sterkfontein caves

Paleoanthropologist Ron Clarke discovered the fossil, now named Little Foot, at the cradle of humankind.

Paleoanthropologist Ron Clarke during the unveiling of the fossil of the 3.5-million-year-old woman who had been buried deep in the caves of Sterkfontein. Picture: Katleho Sekhotho/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Wits University has unveiled the fossil of a woman buried deep in the caves of Sterkfontein for almost 3.5 million years ago.

Paleoanthropologist Ron Clarke discovered the fossil, now named Little Foot, at the Cradle of Humankind.

The fossil is significant as it’s one of the most complete skeletons found in southern Africa and one of the oldest.

Clarke has revealed the complete assembled fossil of the 3.5-million-year-old woman called Little Foot.

WATCH: Wits unveils Little Foot

Clarke says the woman’s feet were found first and it took him and his team almost 20 years to excavate all the bones of the Australopithecus.

“The other foot was found on the other side. This was dramatic because we expected to find the whole skeleton just lying there. We began excavating but it was in very hard natural concrete.”

Clarke says he refused to listen to the voices of detractors, who he says wanted him to reveal the fossil prematurely.

He says this is a significant moment in his career.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)