UCT Scientists part of team working on new human ancestor Homo naledi

14 Sep 2015 - 08:00

Lauren Schroeder and Associate Professor Rebecca Ackermann

Associate Professor Rebecca Ackermann and her PhD student Lauren Schroeder, members of the Department of Archaeology at UCT, were part of the team who recently described a new human ancestor, Homo naledi.   This species is an extremely important find for palaeoanthropology and South Africa.  It is one of the most complete hominin finds ever, both in terms of numberes of individuals and representation of body parts.  Over 1500 fossils of this species have so far been recovered, representing at least 15 individuals.  This means that the researchers are able to say something not just about a jawbone of one individual, but about variation within this species and how all of the parts fit together.  One surprising thing about Homo naledi is that this hominin had quite a mixture of features, some of which were very ape-like, and some of which were very human-like.  It will be very interesting, once there are secure dates for these fossils, to see how they relate to the bigger picture of human evolution.

Homo naledi bone table.  Picture by John Hawks

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