AL­MOST COM­PLETE SKULL OF AN­CIENT HOMININ UN­EARTHED

Focus-Science and Technology - - Discoveries -

Of th­ese, one adult spec­i­men is re­mark­ably com­plete and has been given the nick­name ‘Neo’. This is the word for ‘gift’ in Se­sotho, which is a lan­guage spo­ken in South Africa. Wit­wa­ter­srand Univer­sity’s Peter Sch­mid, who has spent hun­dreds of hours piec­ing to­gether skull frag­ments from this in­di­vid­ual, said when an­nounc­ing the news: “We fi­nally get a look at the face of Homo naledi."

As well giv­ing us a more de­tailed pic­ture of the species’ phys­i­cal make-up, the new fos­sils may shed light on the birth of hu­man cul­tural tra­di­tions. The fact that both caches of fos­sils were found so far into the cave net­work has led to spec­u­la­tion that this may be ev­i­dence of Homo naledi 'bury­ing' their dead in caves. If this is true, it would be one of the old­est ex­am­ples of such a prac­tice yet dis­cov­ered. In 2015, a team from Wit­wa­ter­srand Univer­sity in South Africa an­nounced their dis­cov­ery of a pre­vi­ously un­known species of early hominin, dubbed Homo naledi. The creature, which walked up­right and stood 1.5m tall, would have co-ex­isted along­side Homo sapi­ens and and Homo Sapi­ens and Homo Ne­an­derthals – modern hu­mans and Ne­an­derthals – around a quar­ter of a mil­lion years ago.

The team’s find­ings were based on fos­sils that were dis­cov­ered in 2013 in the Ris­ing Star cave sys­tem, near Krugers­dorp in Greater Jo­han­nes­burg. Those orig­i­nal H. naledi fos­sils were found in the caves' Di­naledi Cham­ber, and con­sisted of the par­tial re­mains of up to 15 in­di­vid­u­als. Now, fur­ther ex­plo­ration of the nearby Lesedi Cham­ber has un­earthed over 130 fur­ther H. naledi fos­sils, whick are be­lieved to have come from just three in­di­vid­u­als.

Neo is the most com­plete H. naledi spec­i­men of that has yet been dis­cov­ered

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