Homo Naledi: A Surprisingly Modern Relative

Briefing by: AccessScience Editors. Last reviewed: In the Rising Star cave system in South Africa, located about 48 kilometers 30 miles north of Johannesburg, paleoanthropologists have unearthed an extensive collection of more than skeletal elements from at least 15 individuals that have been provisionally assigned to a new species of the genus Homo. The location in which these numerous fossils were found is a highly inaccessible chamber known as the Dinaledi “Star” Chamber; hence, this previously unknown offshoot of the hominin family has been given the name Homo naledi. This discovery has provided the largest morphologically homogeneous assemblage of a single species of ancient hominins yet found in Africa. See also: Anthropology ; Fossil ; Physical anthropology. Although the age of these unique fossil specimens still needs to be determined scientifically, analyses indicate they are from a species having a stature and weight like those of small-bodied humans, as well as humanlike feet and hands. Some aspects of the skull and face look similar to those of humans, although other features for example, the jawbone and teeth are very primitive. Notably, though, the endocranial brain volume is less than half that of modern humans and is more derivative of what is seen in other early human ancestors, particularly the australopiths [members of the genus Australopithecus , best known from the 3.

Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa.

On September 10, , we humans added a new relative to our family tree when its discoverer, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, unveiled Homo naledi with great pomp and circumstance. The media was soon flooded with news about this “curious,” “weird,” “baffling,” and “bizarre” new species. But if you understand evolution, Homo naledi ‘s mix of traits is not at all surprising.

To date the remains, the archaeologists who discovered the chamber first used radiometric dating on the flowstones, calcite deposited on the.

The claims surrounding this discovery have been extolled, criticized, and debated by both evolutionists and creationists. In fact, a science news piece in The Guardian highlighted the raging controversy among secular academics over H. Since the first journal publication describing H. As a result, we can now step back and take a fresh look at all the data and conclude that yet another false ape-man story has been perpetrated upon the public to prop up a failed paradigm of human evolution.

The story told by Berger in his book Almost Human reveals that a former student mysteriously showed up and convinced him to support an effort to explore caves in the area of South Africa where he was working. Fortuitously for Berger, the amateur explorers were able to penetrate the nearly inaccessible lower reaches of the Rising Star cave system and find a remote chamber littered with fossils.

As the Rising Star cave system progresses downward, two extremely narrow passages connect the two lowest chambers Figure 1. He immediately noticed that the walls were covered with fossils.

Decision letter

Dr Tracy Kivell and Dr Matt Skinner from the School of Anthropology and Conservation have been involved in major research into new fossil finds in South Africa that indicate a second species of human was alive at same time as early humans. Fossil remains in the Rising Star Cave system near Johannesburg were first uncovered in and were attributed to a new species dubbed Homo naledi. It was first believed these remains were about three million years old but research has dated them to between , and , years old , a time when Homo sapiens were also present in Africa.

”Neo” skull from Lesedi Chamber (left) with DH1 Homo naledi skull from Dinaledi Chamber (right). Photo credit: Wits University/ John Hawks.

New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity sub-unit 3b , interpreted to be deposited between ka and ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H. We consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore, the true age of the fossils.

By combining the US-ESR maximum age estimate obtained from the teeth, with the U-Th age for the oldest flowstone overlying Homo naledi fossils, we have constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between ka and ka. These age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology.

Species of ancient humans and the extinct relatives of our ancestors are typically described from a limited number of fossils. However, this was not the case with Homo naledi.

A twist in the evolutionary tale: why the discovery of a ‘young’ Homo naledi changes everything

The mysterious African hominid that lived alongside our ancestors. The discovery of a South African cave filled with the bones of a puzzling new human relative blew the scientific community away. But work led by Australian researchers has now revealed another surprise: Homo naledi lived at the same time as our own ancestors.

naledi yielded by the dated Bayesian analysis. The analyses strongly supported the hypothesis that H. naledi forms a clade with the other Homo species and.

Photo: John Hawks. Homo naledi has much in common with early forms of the genus Homo. On this episode, Adam and Ryan dive into the complexities of our ever evolving human family. How we understand our ancient ancestors, cousins, and ape family has the potential to impact our understanding of what it means to be human and how we are still changing. The new and exciting data we dive into this episode is all about Homo Naledi, perhaps the most recent addition to our family. As of the day we recorded this episode, April 25th, the first concrete date range for the species was publicized but stay tuned for further developments.

This means we need to re-evaluate our genus once again and think about the complexities of dating our ancestors. Granted, this article came out slightly before the new dating was announced and concludes that human emotions likely developed earlier than thought… not the case now, but it is fun to think that our cousins have cool feelings too.

But, the methods for this dating are not yet available…. You must log in to post a comment.

Homo naledi

The remains of at least 15 individuals were found in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa and announced as a new human species in The remains are the largest assemblage of a single hominin species yet discovered in Africa. Homo naledi combines primitive with modern features and is not a direct ancestor of modern humans. The remains date to between about , and , years ago.

Attempts at dating the remains have not been successful. However, Thackeray (​) has estimated that the species may date to ± mya, based on.

We’re open! Book your free ticket in advance. In , a bounty of fossils was discovered deep in a South African cave. They were identified as a new human species with a surprising combination of features. Human evolution expert Prof Chris Stringer outlines some of the mysteries and contradictions presented by Homo naledi , and the fascinating possibilities it raises. Since this article was published, another new human relative has been described: Homo luzonensis.

Read the April news. The discovery of hundreds of Homo naledi fossils was the largest such find ever made on the African continent. The fossils display a unique mix of modern and archaic traits and are shaking up our understanding of the origins and diversity of our human lineage. Homo naledi highlights, once again, that we can’t think of human evolution in terms of ape-like ancestors gradually evolving more modern features in a linear fashion.

Instead, multiple human species evolved in parallel and coexisted, sometimes side-by-side.

A New Addition to the Human Family Tree Is Surprisingly Young

In , a deep, at some points very narrow cave system called Rising Star in South Africa produced bones that would be identified as a new addition to the Homo genus, named Homo naledi. The over 1, bones found, belonging to at least 15 individuals of varying ages, shared many traits with ourselves, such as the structure of their hands, wrists and feet, while also having many stark differences, including a much smaller brain that is closer to the Homo habilis Hendry This mix of primitive and more modern features is curious, by not that surprising by itself, considering how complex the family tree is and how different members of the genus evolved in different ways.

They established the dates of the sediments in which the bones of H. naledi were found using Uranium-Thorium dating (a technique capable of estimating the.

The one thing everyone agrees is that the fossils themselves are spectacular. In , researchers unveiled 1, hominin fossil fragments found deep in a South African cave, excavated by six cavers who were all skinny, short, and female. Their heads were small, suggesting an early hominin perhaps more than a million years old. But their feet were stiff for walking upright and their hands adept like modern humans. So in the media frenzy that followed—a National Geographic cover , a documentary , numerous articles—the question kept coming up: How old are these Homo naledi fossils, really?

What do they tell us, if anything, about the origin of Homo sapiens? To that first question, the researchers now have an answer: , to , years old.

Dating your Ancestors is Complicated: The Strange Case of Homo Naledi

The newly discovered species, Homo naledi, is believed to have lived alongside early humans known as Homo sapiens. The latest specimens include remains of two adults and a child. One of the adults’ skull is reportedly complete.

Direct dating of Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber (Berger et al., ) shows that they were deposited between about ka and.

Either your web browser doesn’t support Javascript or it is currently turned off. In the latter case, please turn on Javascript support in your web browser and reload this page. Elife , 09 May , 6 DOI: New discoveries and dating of fossil remains from the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, have strong implications for our understanding of Pleistocene human evolution in Africa. Direct dating of Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber Berger et al.

Hawks and colleagues Hawks et al. Previously, only large-brained modern humans or their close relatives had been demonstrated to exist at this late time in Africa, but the fossil evidence for any hominins in subequatorial Africa was very sparse.

The mysterious African hominid that lived alongside our ancestors

Homo naledi is a species of archaic human discovered in the Rising Star Cave , Cradle of Humankind , South Africa dating to the Middle Pleistocene ,—, years ago. The initial discovery comprises 1, specimens, representing different elements, and at least 15 different individuals. Despite this exceptionally high number of specimens, their classification with other Homo remains unclear. Along with similarities to contemporary Homo , they share several characteristics with the ancestral Australopithecus and early Homo as well mosaic anatomy , most notably a small cranial capacity of — cm 3 They are estimated to have averaged Nonetheless, H.

Homo naledi is a species of archaic human discovered in the Rising Star Cave, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa dating to the Middle Pleistocene.

All rights reserved. A year and a half after adding a puzzling new member to the human family tree , a team of researchers working in South Africa have offered an additional twist: the species is far younger than its bizarrely primitive body would suggest, and may have shared the landscape with early Homo sapiens. In papers published Tuesday in eLife , the team—led by University of the Witwatersrand Wits paleoanthropologist Lee Berger —provides an age range for the remains first reported in between , and , years old.

The team also describes a second chamber within Rising Star that contains yet-undated H. If these dates hold, it could mean that while our own species was evolving from other, large-brained ancestors, a little-brained shadow lineage was lingering on from a much earlier period, perhaps two million years ago or more. When Homo naledi made its public debut in , several key details about the species still lurked in the shadows.

How was H. And as National Geographic reported at the time , the initial announcement frustrated scientists because of what it was missing. Recent dating of the geology of Rising Star places Homo naledi in a period roughly ,, years ago, when multiple other hominin species were alive—including archaic forms of Homo sapiens.

Amazing haul of ancient human finds unveiled

The CENIEH participates in the first dating study which demonstrates that this new species lived between , and , years ago in South Africa. Today the journal eLife publishes the results of a multidisciplinary dating work revealing for the first time that Homo naledi lived between , and , years ago in South Africa. Based on the combination of a wide range of methods such as Luminescence, Paleomagnetism, Electronic Spin Resonance ESR and Uranium-Thorium Series, this work enables for the first time to obtain a reliable date for this new species discovered and published by the paleoanthropologist Lee R.

Berger and his team in This new scientific study led by Prof.

Flowstones in the cave were dated this way (U-Th dating), and the teeth of Homo naledi were also dated by the method outlined above, in.

Adam Rutherford reports on new dating evidence that suggests a new species of human, Homo naledi, was living in South Africa between , and , years ago. Controversy has followed the remains of a new species of human, Homo naledi, since it was described in Buried deep in a South African cave, its primitive features led scientists to believe it was up to three million years old. This week it’s been revealed that this estimate was wrong.

New dating evidence suggests the skeletons are only to years old and that means they may have lived alongside other homo species. Previously, humans were thought to have travelled to America via a land bridge between eastern Siberia and modern day Alaska, somewhere between 17 – 40 years ago when sea levels were lower than they are today. Researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum now present evidence that suggests this transition could have been much earlier – nearly years earlier.

Adam talked to Chris Stringer, researcher in human evolution at the Natural History Museum in London, to unpick the evidence. Dark matter is a mystery that has evaded scientists for decades. Now the biggest and most sensitive detector is being built in South Dakota and scientists believe the Lux-Zeppelin experiment will soon be able to detect one of the candidates for dark matter, the elusive particle known as a weakly interacting massive particle WIMP.

Graihagh Jackson got a sneak peak of the key components, including the ‘eyes’ of the detector, before they’re sent off for installation. Adam Rutherford talks to cosmologist Carlos Frenk from the University of Durham and learns of an alternative theory to describe this mysterious dark matter – a whole new dark sector. This sector contains a vast range of different dark particles, from photons to bosons, that could interact with normal particles.

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