BREAKING NEWS: South Africa fossils reveal new species of human ancestor, scientists say

 

Thursday, September 10, 2015 5:01 AM EDT

Acting on a tip from spelunkers two years ago, scientists

in South Africa discovered what the cavers had only dimly

glimpsed through a crack in a limestone wall deep in the

Rising Star cave: lots and lots of old bones.

The remains covered the earthen floor beyond the narrow

opening. This was, the scientists concluded, a large, dark

chamber for the dead of a previously unidentified species

of the early human lineage — Homo naledi.

The new hominin species was announced on Thursday by

an international team of more than 60 scientists led by

Lee R. Berger, an American paleoanthropologist who is a

professor of human evolution studies at the University of

the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The species name,

H. naledi, refers to the cave where the bones lay

undisturbed for so long; “naledi” means “star” in the local

Sesotho language.

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