Discovered deep in the heart of a treacherous cave system — as if they’d been placed there deliberately — were 15 ancient skeletons that showed a confusing patchwork of features. Some aspects seemed modern, almost human. The species was an enigma. They have determined a shockingly young age for the original remains, and they found a second cavern full of skeletons. And the discovery of a second cave adds to the evidence that primitive Naledi may have performed a surprisingly modern behavior: In a third paper, they argue that Naledi must be a long-lasting lineage that arose 2 million years ago during the early days of the genus Homo and somehow survived long enough to coexist with modern humans, who emerged about , years ago. The species’ complicated anatomy and unexpected resilience raise a number of intriguing questions, they say: Could Naledi be responsible for some of the stone tools found in South Africa during the period it was alive?
More secrets of human ancestry emerge from South African caves
Homo sapiens Long lower legs were adapted to walking and running; smaller teeth and larger brains in later H. One pegged the species at about two million years old , give or take; the other, a study by Simon Fraser University researcher Mana Dembo , suggested it was about , years old This Primitive Humanlike Species May Have Walked With Our Ancestors So after the fossils were described, Dirks and 19 other scientists decided to throw the methodological kitchen sink at them, using six different dating methods to constrain H.
To start, they radiometrically dated some flowstones—layers of calcite laid down by running water—that had covered some of the H. Two labs independently showed that the flowstone was about , years old, meaning that the underlying H.
Dated at between , and , years old, Homo naledi would have been sharing the planet with Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis, and even our own species, Homo sapiens. But this young age isn’t the most mysterious thing about these individuals.
But how long does it take for the organic molecules we are made of to break down after death? In general, the longer the time from death, the larger the amount of decay that should be observed. This is particularly true for soft tissue, the parts of an organism that are not mineralized such as skin, muscles, or blood vessels. In , Mary Schweitzer, then affiliated with the Museum of the Rockies, shared data suggesting the possibility of soft tissue and biomolecules preservation in a bone of Tyrannosaurus rex supposedly 68 Ma old .
Her findings were met with great resistance and skepticism. Similar observations of blood vessels, collagen, and osteocytes from dinosaur bone had been published by Roman Pawlicki and his colleagues since  , but had not stirred much debate, probably because Jurassic Park, which popularized the subject, had not been written and filmed yet. In the last two decades, Mary Schweitzer and her group found additional examples and used a widening array of analytical techniques to document their findings [ ].
Consequently, the possibility of preservation of original dinosaur soft tissue and biomolecules is becoming more accepted, and this blog post reviews some of what has been published on the subject in the last year and a half. Dinosaur specimens with soft tissue preservation reported in Three different dinosaur skeletons, with bones in articulation or association, were described in the literature with special mention of or an emphasis on the presence of soft tissue. The first, a ceratopsian ornithischian Psittacosaurus sp.
The pigments are thought to represent original organic matter, more specifically melanin residues. This interpretation was based on SEM microscopy, showing ovoid impressions similar to melanosomes melanin-bearing organelles.
Dating Homo naledi
In , paleoanthropologists discovered the fossilized remains of at least 15 individual hominins, or human relatives, within the Dinaledi chamber of the Rising Star cave system near Johannesburg, South Africa. The remains were from an entirely new species, dubbed Homo naledi by the researchers. Recently, these fossils were determined to be around , — , years old, meaning that H.
About years ago‚ South Africans shared their land with another human-like species: Homo Naledi. Today‚ the age of Homo Naledi was announced and it was revealed these species were much.
Here we describe the pelvic remains from the Dinaledi Chamber in the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, which has produced hominin fossils of a new species, Homo naledi. Though this species has been attributed to Homo based on cranial and lower limb morphology, the morphology of some of the fragmentary pelvic remains recovered align more closely with specimens attributed to the species Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus than they do with those of most but not all known species of the genus Homo.
At the same time, H. The fragmentary nature of the Dinaledi pelvic assemblage makes the attribution of sex and developmental age to individual specimens difficult, which in turn diminishes our ability to identify the number of individuals represented in the assemblage. At present, we can only confidently say that the pelvic fossils from Rising Star represent at least four individuals based on the presence of four overlapping right ischial fossils whereas a minimum of 15 individuals can be identified from the Dinaledi dental assemblage.
A primitive, early Australopithecus-like false pelvis combined with a derived Homo-like true pelvis is morphologically consistent with evidence from the lower ribcage and proximal femur of H. The overall similarity of H.
Cradle of Humankind
June 7, , Max Planck Society Two views of a composite reconstruction of the earliest known Homo sapiens fossils from Jebel Irhoud Morocco based on micro computed tomographic scans of multiple original fossils. Dated to thousand years ago these early Homo sapiens already have a modern-looking face that falls within the variation of humans living today. However, the archaic-looking virtual imprint of the braincase blue indicates that brain shape, and possibly brain function, evolved within the Homo sapiens lineage.
The finds are dated to about thousand years ago and represent the oldest securely dated fossil evidence of our own species. This date is thousand years earlier than the previous oldest Homo sapiens fossils.
About Homo naledi Homo naledi had a tiny brain, about the size of an orange. It stood about meters (about 5 feet) tall and weighed about 45 kilograms (almost pounds).
Whittall is one of the very few Cryptozoologists that I even pay attention to as I think most are charlatans, frankly. He also believes Homo erectus is the hairy men, ape men, reported for a long time in the deep forests near Taitao, Chile. Whittal notes the research of Daniel Garrigan and his colleagues at the University of Arizona in Tucson. They found that it has great variability among humans from different parts of the world.
Modern humans have two sets of sex chromosomes known as X and Y. Men have XY while females have XX chromosomes. Garrigan and his team sampled people including Africans, Europeans, Melanesians, Chinese, Japanese, and Central Asians and their findings were rather surprising to everyone! The team also concluded that there are many different forms of RRM2P4 and they all relate back to some unknown shared common ancestor dating back about 2 mya.
This, ironically, is held to be about the time Homo erectus began to migrate out of Africa and into Asia! Some researchers believe Homo erectus may have been still alive 30 kya in Asia. This could have made it very possible for interbreeding to occur between Homo erectus and modern humans and, thus, pass on some of their Erectus genes to us!
The ‘underground astronaut’ in search of ancient bones
Upon the announcement of the Homo naledi discovery in , one frustration for many people was the lack of a date associated with the bones. Based on the anatomy of the bones and how primitive some of them are, many people suspected that Homo naledi might date back to the dawn of the genus Homo in the 2 million-years-ago period. After much work attempting to date the fossils and the cave sediments, in May of the team was finally able to announce definitive dates for the Dinaledi chamber specimens.
Using multiple methods of dating including Electron Spin Resonance and Uranium-Thorium methods processed independently by multiple labs, the bones were found to be between , and , years old. This very young date surprised many people and suggests that Homo naledi was alive in southern Africa until the advent of our species, Homo sapiens, in the area.
The potential presence of this small-brained relative alongside modern people has paleontologist Lee Berger and his team questioning if Homo naledi might have been responsible for some of the stone tool artifacts found in South Africa at that time.
Both genetic data of present day humans and fossil remains point to an African origin of our own species, Homo usly, the oldest securely dated Homo sapiens fossils were known from.
The Oldest Human Ancestor And Australopithecus Africanus It is easy to understand why primates never wandered over large distances without any form of defense. Bipeds roamed around the forests but climbed into the trees in case of danger. This transition period lasted for several million years. Homo naledi still climbed into the trees as is seen from its skeleton. Climbing up and down the chute to Dinaledi chamber was not the slightest effort, since he was very small and thin.
He had small shoulders but long and strong arms. He was made for the Rising Star Cave in all respects as we will argue below. Now we know today’s chimps can throw stones and sometimes beat with branches to potential attackers. That will be our starting point. But throwing stones can be done only in the neighbourhood of the place to live because stones are too heavy to transport through the savannas.
Just like chimps they would have beaten their attackers with very heavy branches. But heavy sticks cannot be transported over large distances. Wandering around the forests they experienced entrained branches automatically worn on rocky soil.
The ‘underground astronaut’ in search of ancient bones
This discovery was announced to the world formally in September and was featured as the cover story of the October issue of National Geographic magazine. Now, I want to take this space to share the science behind this amazing discovery with you here at National Geographic Education. They were exploring the Rising Star Cave outside Johannesburg when they explored beyond the existing map and descended down a foot-long, 7-inch-wide chute. The chute opened into a fossil chamber where they saw human-like bones.
Debate Erupts over Strange New Human Species. skull and foot bones from Homo naledi—a newly As for the burning question of how old the H. naledi remains are, Dirks says dating of the.
We humans are especially prone to telling our own evolutionary story in this manner. Personally, I hope we are amphibious and have fins in 3 million years. That would be awesome. The latest evidence for that essential truth comes from the Rising Star cave system in South Africa, where scientists say Homo naledi, the unusual hominid species they discovered there in , is surprisingly young, living as recently as , years ago. Moreover, the researchers found three more individuals in another chamber in the cave system, one of them with the most complete H.
You can see it above. Today the large team of researchers published a trio of papers documenting their results in the open-access journal eLife. In , we reported on the initial discovery of 15 sets of hominid remains found in the Dinaledi cave by a team of researchers led by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger. It was an unprecedented bounty of bones. Often, paleoanthropologists are reconstructing human evolutionary history from scant remains—a fragment of skull or jaw bone here, a femur or a finger there.
But in the Dinaledi cave, there are at least bones, and likely a lot more, since only a small fraction of the cave was excavated by a half-dozen archaeologists—all female, all cavers, all slim enough to squeeze through a series of cave tunnels that narrowed to just 7 inches in one spot—who worked in extraordinary conditions to excavate the bones from a pitch-black cave nearly feet beneath the surface. The ancient creatures were no bigger than the small but formidable women who unearthed them.
Their bodies are a fascinating mosaic of primitive and modern: