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Struik Travel & Heritage

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The Discovery of Homo Naledi has Opened Up an Entirely New Field of Inquiry – Lee Berger

Field Guide to the Cradle of Human KindJ Brooks Spector recently sat down with paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, co-author of Field Guide to the Cradle of Human Kind, to discuss the discovery of a new species of human relative, named Homo naledi.

In September this year Berger and his extensive team of scientists announced the discovery of thousands of fossil bones in the Rising Star caves of the Cradle of Human Kind World Heritage Site. The manner in which the fossils were arranged is indicative of the possibility that this pre-Neanderthal species put thought into the process of disposing of their dead – a completely new idea.

“We’re going to have to open up an entirely new field of inquiry [about this]…. No matter what that level of consciousness is, until this moment, we have never had any level of strong evidence of a non-Homo Sapiens species in a ritualised way of dealing with death…. That is, doing the same thing in a repeated manner…. I do think we have the strongest evidence of this ever discovered,” Berger told Spector.

Read the article for more on this incredible subject:

The extraordinary public announcement, on Thursday, 10 September, of thousands of fossil bones from a new hominid species, Homo naledi, uncovered in one of the sites of the Cradle of Humankind has transfixed the world. J BROOKS SPECTOR takes a first look at what it may mean for an understanding of human origins – and what it may mean to be human.

Nearly 150 years ago, Charles Darwin had written in his then-controversial volume The Descent of Man: “In each great region of the world the living mammals are closely related to the extinct species of the same region. It is, therefore, probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these two species are now man’s nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere.”

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