James Archibald - Öykü Altuntaş / Johannesburg, Sep 16 () - A new discovery in South Africa can decode the timeline of human evolution and bring to light fresh clues on the family of our ancestors.
A new human species, named Homo Naledi, that has been recently discovered in a cave in South Africa was announced on Thursday, after years of work carried out with a team led by researchers from the University of Witwatersrand.
Within the excavations, more than 1,500 fossil elements have been recovered until today, bringing to light the single largest discovery of hominems in Africa, through remains predicted to belong to 15 individuals.
“Homo naledi is already practically the best-known fossil member of our lineage, with almost every bone in the body” said Professor Lee Berger, leader of the research team.
Berger also illustrated that the standing 1.5 metres tall and weighing an average of 45 kilograms “Homo naledi” was thought to had a brain in the size of an orange.
“The shoulders were quite apelike and the fingers were very curved, indicating that they were able to climb and also use tools. Their feet were very similar to our own, suggesting that they were also comfortable walking long distances” said Berger.
Furthermore, the findings suggest that the bodies had been placed there in a form of burial or ritual, since the bodies were unearthed all concentrated together, and the burials and rituals were previously thought to have only been done by humans. Additionally, the research team has not found any other species’ fossil remains, leading scientist to the conclusion that a new human species have been discovered.
The discovery announced last week, in fact, has been made in 2013 in a cave known as Rising Star in the Cradle of Humankind Heritage site, in 50 kilometres distance to northwest of Johannesburg. The name of this breakthrough, “naledi” originates from the word for “star” in a South African language, in Sesotho.