Homo gautengensis was suggested as a name for South African fossils in May 2010 by the Australian paleoanthropologists and primatologists Darren Curnoe from University of New South Wales, by other researchers partly Homo habilis, Homo ergaster partly / Homo erectus to be assigned. As holotype the fossil Stw 53 was reported in the original description, which had Alun Hughes already discovered on August 9, 1976 in Sterkfontein and 1977 described together with Phillip Tobias scientifically.
The epithet gautengensis refers to the South African province of Gauteng, whose name is on Southern Sotho " Place of Gold " and is derived from the homo gautengensis been covered fossils of the genus Homo.
The fossil Stw 53
The highly fragmented fossil Stw 53, the various characteristics with Homo habilis fossil OH divides 62, comes from a discovery layer that was initially dated at 2.0 to 1.5 million years. It is kept at Witwatersrand University. Have been preserved parts of the upper jaw with some molars, also several pieces of bone from the area of the zygomatic bone, the forehead and the occiput. Since these bone fragments come from different areas of the skull and connecting pieces are missing, the reconstruction of their natural arrangement proved to be difficult. Therefore, the fossil of a part of the research was - including Darren Curnoe 2006 - asked to Homo habilis, but other Australopithecus africanus. The original assignment of the fossil to 2.0 to 1.5 million year old layer Fund has been questioned and the fossil of the next older layer attributed, which is 2.6 to 2.0 million years old. In addition, Darren Curnoe published deviates from the original reconstruction reconstruction that Stw 53 together with the Fossil SK 847 but again explicitly presented to Homo habilis; the plausibility of this reconstruction, however, was confronted immediately by a South African experts questioned.
Interpretation as South African Special Development
Although Darren Curnoe acknowledges that the dating of many South African finds is as controversial as - because of the poor condition - their reconstruction, he interpreted the fossil Stw 53 in May 2010 as the holotype of a stand-alone ( endemic ), using only South African findings documented species of the genus Homo. As additional copies ( paratypes ) for the characteristics of the type were the holotype added more than 20 additional, partly known for decades fossils from Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Drimolen; to these paratypes heard among others, the partially preserved skull SK 847, which is interpreted by other experts as Homo ergaster and several lower jaw. If this grouping and the associated with it renaming the fossil endure homo gautengensis would be next to Homo rudolfensis the earliest species of the genus Homo.
The technical description of nature based primarily on characteristics of the dentition and especially on the nature of the surface of the molars. Parts of the body below the head could not be assigned to the type specimens, were also not specified in the original description made for habitat and food. However, it said in a publication of the Faculty of Science of the University of New South Wales, the relatively large molars pointed to the frequent eating of relatively tough plant food. At the same time an individual is an adult of body weight of around 50 kg, was attributed.