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Homo Naledi Research Paper

  • Date Submitted: 11/11/2015 01:21 PM
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Emily Guido
Paleoanthropology Lecture 9/28/15

After squeezing through a small crevice high in the rear wall of the Rising Star Cave in South Africa, before descending a long, narrow downfall to the chamber floor 40 meters beneath the surface, two cave spelunkers stumbled upon “human-like” fossils of a new species known as, homo naledi. Approximately 15 partial skeletons ranging from the ages of infants to older adults were found that could change our outlook on human evolution. Working in a cave deep beneath one of South Africa’s rock formations, an international team of scientists brought to light a bizarre quantity of hominin fossils, more than 1,500 well preserved bones and teeth representing the largest, most complete set of such remains found to date in Africa.
After further excavation and countless hours of analysis, the fossils results were exposed, and shocked not only anthropologists, but also the common citizen. The real question was, what is homo naledi, and where do these mysterious fossils fall on the evolution timeline? What Lee Berger and his team discovered was definitely a form of hominin. Due to the very wide angle of the pelvis, the angle of the knees, the spinal structure, the human-like foot, and many other traits similar to humans obviously suggested bipedalism. Homo naledi was found to have an exceptionally small brain of about 560 centimeters cubed compared to our brain which is 1400 centimeters cubed.  One very compelling thing about homo naledi is that it has both primitive and derived features which have never been found in a hominin.
The recovering of these fossils was both backbreaking and exhausting, but to the paleoanthropologists it was one of the most exciting discoveries in a long while, so everyone was very anxious to view the fossils removed from the depths of the cave. The cave floor was a soft clay, so to prevent stepping on or breaking the bones, the excavators didn’t wear shoes. Due to the soft clay ground, the bone was...

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