Next-Gen

Rising Star Cave

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by robin2520
Last updated 1 year ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
Paleontology

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Rising Star Cave

Paleoanthropologist, Lee Berger, put an add on his facebook on October 7, 2013 seeking help for an exciting excavation.The add read: "Applicants must have experience in palaeontology or archaeology.They must be to be willing to drop everything and fly to South Africa within the month. The person must be skinny and preferably small.They must not be claustrophobic.They must be fit, and they should have some caving experience."

Many qualified applicants hoped to join this excavation but only six were chosen - six women.

These women climbed through a 7 inch opening in the cave and descovered something incredible.They dug bones of an unknown species - Homo Naledi. By the end of the week, the team had excavated more fossils thn ever found in a South African site. It took months to process the 1,550 or so fragments and assemble them into 15 skeletons—male and female, elderly and infant.

HOMO NALEDI

Characteristics of Homo Naledi* human sized teeth*upright hominin stood about 5ft tall*long legs & human-like feet*ape-like sholders*human-like hands*skull can fit inside of one hand - much smaller than humans

Except for a few bones from a bird and some rodents, H.naledi is the only thing in that chamber. “We found nothing else, and the only time you ever find just one thing is when humans deliberately do it,” says Berger.

“These were the healthiest dead things ever seen,” says Berger. That ruled out cannibals, prehistoric serial killers, or predators that dragged them down into the crevice. The sediment in the chamber also revealed no evidence that water had carried the bodies in from outside. There’s no debris to suggest that the individuals were actually living in the cave.

Burial? "There's no better hypothesis" Was H.naledi really carrying out a burial ritual, despite having a brain no bigger than a gorilla’s? Did they invent the practice independently of our ancestors? “These are going to be great things to explore,” says Berger.


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