New dating suggests younger age for Homo naledi | Science News

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New dating suggests younger age for Homo naledi

South African hominid may have lived only 900,000 years ago

By
9:00am, July 5, 2016
Homo naledi skulls

YOUNG SKULLS  A new statistical analysis of skulls and teeth suggests that a recently discovered South African hominid dubbed Homo naledi lived around 900,000 years ago. That’s roughly 1 million years later than estimated by other researchers. H. naledi skulls shown here were included in the new study.

Homo naledi, currently the best-known and most mysterious fossil species in the human genus, may be considerably younger than previously thought, a new investigation suggests.

Evolutionary trees of ancient hominids statistically reconstructed from skull and tooth measurements indicate that H. naledi lived around 912,000 years ago, say paleoanthropologist Mana Dembo of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and her colleagues. That’s a provisional estimate, since researchers have yet to date either H. naledi’s bones or the sediment in which some of its remains were excavated.

The new statistical age estimate, described by Dembo’s group in the August Journal of Human Evolution, challenges proposals that H. naledi’s remains come from early in Homo evolution. Researchers who first studied H. naledi bones

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