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Berger said he and his mentor had a father-son relationship, and, as fathers and sons sometimes do, once had a falling out. They had reconciled by 2009, and Tobias was among the first people to whom Berger showed newly unearthed remains nearly 2 million years old that were evidence of a previously unknown species that scientists say fit the transition from ancient apes to modern humans.

“He cried,” Berger recalled. “It was what he’d been waiting to see discovered in southern Africa.