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17-May-2019 03:47

And the Rising Star system wasn't done giving up its secrets.Spelunkers Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker, who discovered the bones in the Dinaledi chamber, had also noticed a large leg bone in a different part of the cave.They didn't think much of it at the time, but after the importance of the Dinaledi fossils became clear, they realized the bone they had passed before was probably from a hominin.As soon as the Dinaledi excavation was complete, the team went back to this second chamber, dubbed Lesedi (“light").The Lesedi chamber also yielded some small animal fossils.(The absence of nonhuman remains in Dinaledi was considered a strong piece of evidence that the hominins were placed in the cavern intentionally, rather than falling or wandering into the cave and then dying there.) might be the ones who put the bodies there.Berger himself only ventured into the chamber once — he got stuck coming back out of the narrow entrance and decided not to push his luck again.Yet, somehow, more than 130 hominin bones wound up in this dark and humid cavern hundreds of thousands of years ago.

We just happen to be the thing that survived.” Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, said finds like this should prompt people to discard the familiar image of a stooped chimp evolving into a modern human walking upright and carrying a briefcase.The excavators uncovered remains from at least three Homo naledi individuals.One of them, an adult male they call “Neo” (“gift” in Sesotho), is among the most complete fossil hominins ever found.The bones are as recent as 236,000 years, meaning Homo naledi roamed Africa at about the time our own species was evolving.

And the discovery of a second cave adds to the evidence that primitive Naledi may have performed a surprisingly modern behavior: burying the dead.The species' complicated anatomy and unexpected resilience raise a number of intriguing questions, they say: Was Naledi a result of, and perhaps a contributor to, hybridization within the Homo family tree?