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Homo naledi - highlights from the paper published on eLife
Homo naledi, a new species
of the genus Homo from the
Dinaledi Chamber, SA
Published in the open access journal eLife on 10 September 2015
Lee R Berger, John Hawks, Darryl J de Ruiter, Steven E Churchill, Peter Schmid,
Lucas K Delezene, Tracy L Kivell, Heather M Garvin, Scott A Williams, Jeremy
M DeSilva, Matthew M Skinner, Charles M Musiba, Noel Cameron, Trenton W
Holliday, William Harcourt-Smith, Rebecca R Ackermann, Markus Bastir, Barry
Bogin, Debra Bolter, Juliet Brophy, Zachary D Cofran, Kimberly A Congdon,
Andrew S Deane, Mana Dembo, Michelle Drapeau, Marina C Elliott, Elen M
Feuerriegel, Daniel Garcia-Martinez, David J Green, Alia Gurtov, Joel D Irish,
Ashley Kruger, Myra F Laird, Damiano Marchi, Marc R Meyer, Shahed Nalla,
Enquye W Negash, Caley M Orr, Davorka Radovcic, Lauren Schroeder, Jill E
Scott, Zachary Throckmorton, Matthew W Tocheri, Caroline VanSickle,
Christopher S Walker, Pianpian Wei, Bernhard Zipfel.
Authors 47 named authors, led by Lee Berger
Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin
discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system,
Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
This species is characterized by body mass and stature similar to small-
bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to
Cranial morphology of H. naledi is unique, but most similar to early
Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis or Homo
While primitive, the dentition is generally small and simple in occlusal
H. Naledi has humanlike manipulatory adaptations of the hand and wrist.
Modern Human Hand
It also exhibits a humanlike foot and lower limb.
Modern Human Foot
These humanlike aspects are contrasted in the postcrania with a more
primitive or australopith-like trunk, shoulder, pelvis and proximal femur.Abstract
Representing at least 15 individuals with most skeletal elements
repeated multiple times, this is the largest assemblage of a single species
of hominins yet discovered in Africa.
October 7th 2013 – diggers wanted, must have Masters or PhD in
palaeontology, must be skinny and preferably small, climbing experience
would be a bonus…
Process An all-woman team was selected for the excavations.
Infrastructure included over 2 miles of communication and power cables into
the fossil chamber. The women worked two-hour shifts in teams of three.
Process Lee Berger and his team in the above-ground command centre
60 Scientists were recruited to process and catalogue the Homo naledi
fossils, over a period of 6 weeks
Sophisticated computer programmes were used to scan every fossil,
and virtual reconstruction was used to fill in gaps, particularly in the
NextEngine laser surface scanner
ScanStudio HD Pro software
GeoMagic Studio 14.0 to create a final three-dimensional model of the specimen
How old is Homo naledi?
Process Fossils were found in sand not rock, so they can’t easily be dated
without destroying material.
If it’s 2 – 3 million years old, then H. naledi could be the root of the
Homo family tree.
If it’s young, say 10,000 to 100,000 years, then we would have a new
species that lived concurrently with ours.
No matter what the age, it will have tremendous impact“ ”No matter what the age, it will have tremendous impact
Unlike any other fossil hominin site in Africa, the Dinaledi Chamber
seems to preserve a large number of individuals from a single
population, one with variation equal to or less than that found within
local populations of modern humans.
Intentional burial? Access to light? These are the healthiest dead
individuals you’ll ever see – no tooth marks, no flood sediment.Highlights
Intentional corpse disposal is a nice sound bite, but more spin than substance
The suggestion that modern humans learned anything from these pin heads is
If you aren’t creating controversy and changing the fundamental
ways, then perhaps you’re not pushing the boundaries of science
Welcome back in
Africa, H. naledi
We’re pleased to
meet you and look
forward to getting
to know you!