Fossils suggest new species from human genus | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Fossils suggest new species from human genus

Homo naledi bones found in South African cave

By
5:00am, September 10, 2015
Array of hominid fossils

FOSSIL SPREAD  An array of hominid fossils from a South African cave shows many body parts of the newly identified species Homo naledi. The partial skeleton in the center consists of bones from several individuals.

Fossils retrieved from an underground cave in South Africa may represent a previously unknown species of the human genus, Homo.

The fossils come from at least 15 individuals recovered from a 30-meter-deep pit, says a team led by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The skeletal remains display a novel mix of humanlike features and more apelike traits characteristic of 2-million- to 4-million-year-old hominids from the genus Australopithecus, the researchers report September 10 in eLife.

Berger and colleagues assign the finds to a new species, Homo naledi. The word naledi means star in South Africa’s Sotho language. “We don’t know how old these fossils are,” Berger said September 9 during a news conference. “But based on its anatomy, H. naledi clearly sits near or at the root of the Homo genus.”

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News