Thursday, September 10, 2015

Anthropologists Declare New Homo Species

credit: NatGeo
Homo naledi, whose ancient remains were discovered in South Africa, is the newest member of the genus Homo according to researchers who made the find. Professor Lee Berger told BBC he thinks the hominid could be the first of our kind living up to 3 million years ago. Multiple skeletons, perhaps the largest assembly of early remains located in Africa, were found in a burial chamber deep within a cave system exhibiting a combination of modern and primative features. The remains' geological contex indicate the hominids were capable of ritual activity. The bone studies have been published in the on-line journal Elife.

The latest discoveries in paleoanthropology have distroyed the idea of a "missing link" to non-human ancestors. Human evolution has followed a branching path of development with many early species, some of whom lived side-by-side such as Heidelbergensis and Neanderthalensis, preceeding modern Homo sapiens. Because of the number and variety of the skeletons found and their undisturbed site, Prof. Berger is confident science will be able to "know everything about this species." Prof. Berger received notariety previously for his discovery of A. sediba. a non-human ancestor. Homo naledi has a small brain case about the size of a gorilla's, but its small teeth, long legs and feet are similar to more modern humans. Its pelvis and shoulders are primative. Researchers not invovled in the important find nevertheless think naledi belongs in our Homo genus.