Homo naledi may have lived at around same time as early humans | Science News

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Homo naledi may have lived at around same time as early humans

New dating puts famed hominid in South Africa as recently as 236,000 years ago

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4:00am, May 9, 2017
Homo naledi skull

NALEDI’S FACE  Excavations in an underground cave in South Africa produced new Homo naledi fossils, including this skull of an adult male. H. naledi fossils in a nearby cave may be as young as 236,000 years old, raising questions about how human evolution occurred.

Fossils of a humanlike species with some puzzlingly ancient skeletal quirks are surprisingly young, its discoverers say. It now appears that this hominid, dubbed Homo naledi, inhabited southern Africa close to 300,000 years ago, around the dawn of Homo sapiens.

H. naledi achieved worldwide acclaim in 2015 as a possibly pivotal player in the evolution of the human genus, Homo. Retrieved from an underground chamber in South Africa, fossils of this species were thought to be anywhere from 900,000 to at least 1.8 million years old (SN: 8/6/16, p. 12). A younger age for H. naledi resolves one mystery about these cave fossils. It doesn’t, however, answer questions about how long ago the species first appeared and when it died out.

What is now known is that H. naledi bodies somehow ended up in Dinaledi Chamber, part

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