Homo naledi bones found in South African cave
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.”