The Rising Star Cave system in South Africa has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. The age of the original Homo naledi remains from the Dinaledi Chamber has been revealed to be startlingly young in age. Homo naledi , which was first announced in September , was alive sometime between and thousand years ago. This places this population of primitive small-brained hominins at a time and place that it is likely they lived alongside Homo sapiens. This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that another species of hominin survived alongside the first humans in Africa. The research, published today in three papers in the journal eLife , presents the long-awaited age of the naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber and announces the new discovery of a second chamber in the Rising Star cave system, containing additional specimens of Homo naledi.
Dating of Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, South Africa, shows that they were deposited between about , and , years ago. 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. More than 1, fossils representing at least 15 individuals were unearthed from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system in After the discovery was reported, a number of questions still remained. The material was undated, and predictions ranged from anywhere between 2 million years old and , years old.
Homo naledi Walked Earth More Recently than Thought
But then there was the head. Four partial skulls had been found—two were likely male, two female. In their general morphology they clearly looked advanced enough to be called Homo. But the braincases were tiny—a mere cubic centimeters for the males and for the females, far less than H. A large brain is the sine qua non of humanness, the hallmark of a species that has evolved to live by its wits.
By Colin Barras. In , Lee Berger at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and his colleagues made an extraordinary discovery — deep inside a South African cave system they found thousands of bones belonging to a brand new species of early human — and now we finally may know when this species lived and how it fits into our evolutionary tree. By it was becoming clear that the new species, which was named Homo naledi , was unlike anything researchers had discovered before. Although parts of its skeleton looked identical to our modern human anatomy, it had some features that were strikingly primitive — including a skull that was only slightly larger than that of a chimpanzee.