New Human-like species discovered in South Africa

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A new species of human has been identified from fossilised bones of at least fifteen skeletons found in a cave in South Africa. 

The skeletons of the new species, which has been named ‘Homo Naledi’, were found deep in a cave that has been dubbed the ‘star chamber’. It is thought that this is the earliest form of burial to ever be discovered and this could be the first of the species belong to the genus homo grouping, living up to three million years ago. 

The researchers clain that this discoery will alter our current thinking about our ancestors. The discovery was published in two paper in the open access journal elife.

The discovery first happened two years ago when amateur cavers stumbled upon the remains while exploring a system of caves know as ‘Rising Star’, which is located within South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. In November 2013 60 scientists and volunteer cavers launched an expedition during which they initialy expected to recover one skelton. Within three days they had realised that there were many more skeltons. 

So many bones were discovered (1,500 all together), that every part of the skelton is represented over different age groups, from infants to the elderly. 

The species has been described as a mix of both primative and human like features. the Tallest was 150 centimeters (about 5ft) and weighed around 45kgs. they had a slender build similar to primates but long limbs more akin to humans and the skull was very small. 

The discovery means that current theories around evolution and human development need to be re-evaluated, the surface of which we have only scratched.