Scientists say they’ve discovered new human species in South Africa. This new member of the human family revealed by a huge trove of bones in a barely accessible, pitch-dark chamber of a cave in South Africa. The species named, Homo Naledi, refers to the cave where the bones lay undisturbed for so long; “Naledi” means “star” in the local Lesotho language.
Besides introducing a new member of the prehuman family, the discovery of these new human species suggests that some early hominids intentionally deposited bodies of their dead in a remote and largely inaccessible cave chamber, a behavior previously considered limited to modern humans. Some of the scientists referred to the practice as a ritualized treatment of their dead, but by “ritual” they said they meant a deliberate and repeated practice, not necessarily a kind of religious rite.
Lee Berger, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg who led the work, said Naledi’s anatomy suggest that it arose at or near the root of the Homo group, which would make the species some 2.5 million to 2.8 million years old. The discovered bones themselves may be younger, said Berger, an American scientist.
The first expedition to the cave chamber in 2013 lasted for 21 days and involved more than 60 specialist cavers and scientists working in dangerous underground conditions.
We’ll bring you more details as they unfold…