Homo naledi’s surprisingly young age opens up more questions on where we come from

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. They claimed the fossils in the chamber below it, the Dinaledi Chamber, had been intentionally buried—not flood-deposited.

Dating the Dinaledi Chamber

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. This does not represent the timespan for this species, merely the age for a limited number of fossils.

It is likely that this species first appeared much earlier, possibly as even 2 million years ago.

fossils of a mysterious new species of hominin named Homo naledi, Dating cave specimens is notoriously difficult because debris falling.

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The skull of a Homo naledi specimen named “Neo. Discovered in a South African cave, H.

A New Addition to the Human Family Tree Is Surprisingly Young

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.

Dating of Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, South Africa, shows that they were deposited between.

John P. Rafferty writes about Earth processes and the environment. He serves currently as the editor of Earth and life sciences—covering climatology, geology, zoology, and other topics that relate to the The species, whose bones bore similarities to the remains of other species within the human genus Homo , as well as to those of Australopithecus , is thought to have evolved about the same time as the first members of Homo , some 2.

A new study, however, strongly suggests that the actual remains found in the Dinaledi Chamber may be far more recent. It possessed other features, including the pelvis, shoulder girdle, femur, and size of the brain cavity, that were more reminiscent of those found in Australopithecus , a lineage that most paleontologists believe was ancestral to genus Homo , and thus us Homo sapiens.

With H. Some studies attempted to develop statistical models to estimate the age of the species based on its physical features; however, their results varied, with age estimates falling between 1 million and 2 million years ago. A study conducted by a multinational team of researchers from Australia, South Africa, the United States, and Spain attempted to zero in on the age of the remains using a series of radiometric dating techniques which measure the ratio amount of a radioactive element and its decay product in a sample of rock or bone.

Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa.

Recent work within the Rising Star cave system has given rise to two findings that influence our knowledge of Homo naledi , its behavior and its position in human evolution. The hominin deposit in the Dinaledi Chamber, which comprises the first described sample of H. A second chamber with a rich fossil deposit, known as the Lesedi Chamber, contains multiple individuals of H. The Lesedi remains are morphologically very similar to those in the Dinaledi Chamber, consistent with the hypothesis that together these two chambers represent a single hominin population Hawks et al.

They occur in a depositional context similar to, but geologically separate from, the Dinaledi Chamber Hawks et al.

In and , paleoanthropologists unearthed the partial skeleton of a Homo naledi child dating from , to , years ago.

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. Additionally, further exploration in the cave system uncovered a raft of new material, including finds of a child and two adult males, one of which has been dubbed Neo by the researchers.

These remains have yet to be dated as doing so would require destruction of some of the remains, but all evidence suggests they are part of the same Homo naledi species. Dr Kivell and Dr Skinner were involved in the research to identify the bones that were uncovered in the Lesedi chamber, helping confirm they were the same as the first Homo naledi finds and understanding where they fit in the context of human evolution. Her work has also included providing inferences about locomotor and manipulative behaviours that Homo naledi practiced.

The findings of the bones, deep within very hard to reach areas of the cave system, suggest they were deliberately placed there by other Homo naledi as part of a ritualistic disposal of human remains. This gives rise to the possibility that Homo sapiens may have learnt such behaviours from Homo naledi , rather than developing them independently.

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

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.

The skull of a Homo naledi specimen named “Neo.” (Credit: Wits University/John Hawks) With a series of papers out today, Homo naledi gets.

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. In September , two cavers exploring a deep and elaborate cave system 50 km northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa made a truly astounding find.

The final hurdle was wriggling down a metre chute, which is less than 18 cm wide at its narrowest points. The inaccessibility of what would be named the Dinaledi Chamber made the find all the more surprising: huge numbers of fossilised bones from a previously unknown hominid. The ongoing excavations here — involving James Cook University JCU geologists, Professor Paul Dirks and Associate Professor Eric Roberts , and led by University of the Witwatersrand palaeoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger — have now turned up more than 2, fossil elements from at least 18 individuals, including males, females, young, and old.

These bones have revealed a species with an unexpected mix of ape-like and modern human features, which stood 1. The find was perplexing because it was not at all clear how the bones got into the caves, as none of the normal routes seemed to make any sense. At the time of the discovery, the scientists concluded that the most plausible explanation was that the bodies were carried to the chamber by other individuals of the species they named Homo naledi , who dropped them down that final metre chute intentionally, either to dispose of them, or as some kind of burial rite.

The suggestion was controversial within the palaeoanthropological and archaeological communities — that a strangely primitive human, with a relatively small brain, could be performing complex cultural or religious behaviours so long ago. It was hard to believe for some. Further research to interpret the geological context of the fossils by Professor Dirks and Dr Roberts has since helped back up the controversial hypothesis and raised new and fascinating questions.

For example, says Dr Roberts, one objection raised was that the cave might have been a different shape historically, or perhaps there was another entrance, making it easier to get in — the hominids might therefore have just been camping or sheltering there.

Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa

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.

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

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. Since the announcement of its discovery in September , several hypotheses have been formulated on the age of H. One of the hypotheses with more weight proposed a very old age, up to 2 million years. However, the new dating undoubtedly points towards a much more recent chronology.

The central point of the work is the direct dating of several human teeth with the ESR method, since it is the only method that can be used for fossil remains older than 50, years, the maximum time range covered by the Radiocarbon dating method.

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

It was an almost unimaginable bonanza, one of the richest assemblages of human fossils ever found, recovered from a chamber deep inside an underground cave system near Johannesburg called Rising Star. From it, the team was able to deduce the bones belonged to a new species, Homo naledi, which had a curious mix of primitive traits, such as a tiny brain, and modern features, including long legs. They determined it was a capable climber, a long-distance walker, a probable toolmaker.

And they suggested this peculiar cousin of ours might have taken great pains to dispose of its dead in the pitch-dark, hard to reach recesses of Rising Star. Yet for all that the team was able to glean from the bones, the discovery is perhaps best known for what the researchers could not ascertain: its age.

The new hominin species, Homo naledi (Berger et al ) has as yet not been dated. This is a crucial step in fully understanding the place of this species within​.

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.

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