Ancient human cousin found in South Africa is surprisingly young

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. The Homo naledi bones were dated between , and , years old. Two years ago, scientists announced the discovery of a puzzling new species of early human: Homo naledi. The 15 partial skeletons were uncovered deep inside a cave in South Africa — and featured human-like hands and feet, but surprisingly small brains the size of a gorilla’s a third the size of modern human’s. The discovery of H.

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Media Center. Homo naledi was alive sometime between , to , years ago. BATON ROUGE — Scientists today announced that the Rising Star Cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. The age of the original Homo naledi remains from the Dinaledi Chamber has been revealed to be startlingly young in age.

Homo Naledi Skull (by John Hawks e.a. (), CC BY) finally released us all from a tortuous wait and succeeded in dating the remains: they.

The claims surrounding this discovery have been extolled, criticized, and debated by both evolutionists and creationists. In fact, a science news piece in The Guardian highlighted the raging controversy among secular academics over H. Since the first journal publication describing H. As a result, we can now step back and take a fresh look at all the data and conclude that yet another false ape-man story has been perpetrated upon the public to prop up a failed paradigm of human evolution.

The story told by Berger in his book Almost Human reveals that a former student mysteriously showed up and convinced him to support an effort to explore caves in the area of South Africa where he was working. Fortuitously for Berger, the amateur explorers were able to penetrate the nearly inaccessible lower reaches of the Rising Star cave system and find a remote chamber littered with fossils. As the Rising Star cave system progresses downward, two extremely narrow passages connect the two lowest chambers Figure 1.

He immediately noticed that the walls were covered with fossils.

First dating study of the new species ‘Homo naledi’

Many questions arose over their estimated age—a matter that was at last resolved on May 9, when it was revealed that they are roughly , years old. That matters a lot, because it means that the prehumans might have been living right alongside early modern humans, or Homo sapiens. Instead, there were competing human models on the road together, with only one equipped to win. The fossils that made the latest news belong to a protohuman species called Homo naledi and were uncovered in a cave by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger.

Nevertheless, Berger believes Homo naledi may be part of a more ancient line, one that could have emerged 2 million years ago but winked out—or was wiped out—when modern humans arose.

Direct dating of Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber (Berger Hawks and colleagues (Hawks et al., ) report the discovery of a.

On September 10, , we humans added a new relative to our family tree when its discoverer, paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, unveiled Homo naledi with great pomp and circumstance. The media was soon flooded with news about this “curious,” “weird,” “baffling,” and “bizarre” new species. But if you understand evolution, Homo naledi ‘s mix of traits is not at all surprising. Furthermore, if you are well-versed in evolution, you would probably bristle at another adjective used again and again in the press to describe the species as “primitive.

But the unknowns and not-yet-knowns — always a part of science — need to be understood before this new twig can be placed precisely on the tree of life. Arguably the most remarkable thing about Homo naledi is how and where it was found. Back in , two eagle-eyed cavers spotted human remains in a remote cavern deep inside the Rising Star cave system, just outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The chamber, dubbed the Denaledi Chamber “chamber of stars” , is about 30 meters below the surface and accessible only via more than 80 meters of often extremely narrow passages.

Amazing haul of ancient human finds unveiled

All rights reserved. A year and a half after adding a puzzling new member to the human family tree , a team of researchers working in South Africa have offered an additional twist: the species is far younger than its bizarrely primitive body would suggest, and may have shared the landscape with early Homo sapiens. In papers published Tuesday in eLife , the team—led by University of the Witwatersrand Wits paleoanthropologist Lee Berger —provides an age range for the remains first reported in between , and , years old.

This approach included dating the Homo naledi fossils directly, The age of the hominin fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and the.

Dr Tracy Kivell and Dr Matt Skinner from the School of Anthropology and Conservation have been involved in major research into new fossil finds in South Africa that indicate a second species of human was alive at same time as early humans. Fossil remains in the Rising Star Cave system near Johannesburg were first uncovered in and were attributed to a new species dubbed Homo naledi. It was first believed these remains were about three million years old but research has dated them to between , and , years old , a time when Homo sapiens were also present in Africa.

Additionally, further exploration in the cave system uncovered a raft of new material, including finds of a child and two adult males, one of which has been dubbed Neo by the researchers. These remains have yet to be dated as doing so would require destruction of some of the remains, but all evidence suggests they are part of the same Homo naledi species. Dr Kivell and Dr Skinner were involved in the research to identify the bones that were uncovered in the Lesedi chamber, helping confirm they were the same as the first Homo naledi finds and understanding where they fit in the context of human evolution.

Her work has also included providing inferences about locomotor and manipulative behaviours that Homo naledi practiced. The findings of the bones, deep within very hard to reach areas of the cave system, suggest they were deliberately placed there by other Homo naledi as part of a ritualistic disposal of human remains.

Homo naledi’s surprisingly young age opens up more questions on where we come from

To support our nonprofit science journalism, please make a tax-deductible gift today. This ancient skull, uncovered in a new cave system, gives Homo naledi a nearly complete face. Just as a high-profile expedition to retrieve fossils of human ancestors from deep within a cave system in South Africa was getting underway in , two spelunkers pulled aside paleoanthropologist Lee Berger. They had found what looked like an ancient thigh bone in a completely different cave.

It is likely that Homo naledi, which was living between , and , years ago Tue., May 9, timer3 min. read the research also marvelled at the age of the fossils, determined by dating Homo naledi teeth and cave sediments.

Wheather or not we are alone in the Universe, we probably haven’t been alone on Earth for a long while. Homo naledi might have been more than a simple neighbor who shared our evolutive path. We have also announced the discovery of a second chamber the Lesedi Chamber deep in the Rising Star Cave, containing an additional Homo naledi fossils 6. These new fossils and the new dates challenge our understanding of the course and complexity of human evolution 7.

The Homo naledi fossils were originally presented 3, 4 without a date, as their geologic setting the location where the fossils have been found was not favorable for traditional fossil dating approaches, such as dating volcanic ash layers. To overcome this challenge, we devised a comprehensive dating methodology, involving five different techniques.

This approach included dating the Homo naledi fossils directly, as well as dating the sediments that the fossils are buried in and the flowstones calcium carbonate deposits, such as stalagmites that cover the fossils and surrounding sediment in the chamber. We can determine how old some fossils and geologic materials such as flowstone are using radiometric dating.

This is possible because bones and minerals can contain small amounts of radioactive elements “parent” isotopes, like uranium that get incorporated into the material at the time of fossilization or crystallization, which then naturally breakdown into more stable elements “daughter” isotopes, like thorium at a known rate.

By measuring the ratio of “parent” e.

Homo naledi

New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity sub-unit 3b , interpreted to be deposited between ka and ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H. We consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore, the true age of the fossils.

By combining the US-ESR maximum age estimate obtained from the teeth, with the U-Th age for the oldest flowstone overlying Homo naledi fossils, we have constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between ka and ka. These age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology.

“Neo” skull of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber. The core of the work is the direct dating of several human teeth with the Electron Spin.

Furthermore, it raises significant questions regarding the pattern of human evolution more generally. Initially, the researchers who discovered and analyzed the skeletal remains of at least 15 individuals of this previously unknown species, which were found deep in a cave located roughly 50 km 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, thought that it was a very early member of the genus Homo. Based on evolutionarily primitive characteristics, including a small brain, but also some more progressive features, such as long leg bones, the scientists thought that the fossils could date to as much as 2.

This would place H. However, the lack of an independent dating method was problematic. Another discordant note was the condition of the bones, which were barely fossilized. Remains of individuals who died over 2 million years ago would be expected to have undergone a high degree of fossilization i. Now, one of three articles on H.

The assays were run separately by several independent laboratories, thus supporting the validity of the results. This finding indicates that primitive members of the genus Homo continued to exist alongside more advanced forms for hundreds of thousands of years, contemporaneous with not only Homo erectus , but even Neanderthals and, possibly, early Homo sapiens our own species. Along with the late persistence of another primitive species of Homo , H.

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New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity sub-unit 3b , interpreted to be deposited between ka and ka.

This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H. We consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore, the true age of the fossils.

Homo naledi is believed to have lived alongside early humans known as Homo sapiens, say Although they had primitive small-brains, an extensive dating process has found that the Homo naledi species were alive as early as.

This site uses cookies to improve your experience and deliver personalised advertising. You can opt out at any time or find out more by reading our cookie policy. The discovery of a new human ancestor in stunned palaeontologists across the globe. Headlines lauded the work for rewriting our history; for filling gaps in the evolutionary record, while others claimed it had the potential to upend everything we know about our cultures and behaviours.

This ancestor was dubbed Homo naledi. Now, following the discovery of a second remote cave chamber on the site where the original remains were found, the story has taken a twist. Advanced dating techniques suggest Homo naledi was much younger than thought and may have lived alongside Homo sapiens — the first time it has been demonstrated that another species of hominin survived in Africa.

Furthermore, the discovery of remains of an ancient child, and a partial skeleton of an adult male with a remarkably well-preserved skull, adds evidence to support the idea Homo naledi discarded its dead in mass graves.

Dr Andy Herries on dating Homo naledi


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