Quirks & Quarks

Homo naledi - New Species of Human Relative

Remains of more than a dozen individuals of a small, tool using, tree climbing hominid are found in a nearly inaccessible cave.

South African fossils provide a fascinating look at hominid evolution

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      A new species of human relative has been found in South Africa. Fossils of 15 individuals were found deep inside a cave, accessible only through a very narrow gap.

      The unusual geology of the cave, as well as a lack of other archaeological remains, has made it difficult for the team of international scientists to date the new species - called Homo naledi. One of those scientists is Canada's Dr. Tracy Kivell, a Reader in Biological Anthroplogy at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

      She helped determine that Homo naledi was an unusual combination of primitive and human-like features. An adult Homo naledi stood about 1.5 metres tall, weighed about 45 kilograms and was a rare combination of a tool user and tree climber. The discovery of Homo naledi points to the fact that there was greater variety and more evolutionary experimentation in our lineage than previously thought.

      Related Links

      First paper in the journal eLife
      Second paper in eLife
      - University of Kent release
      - University of The Witwatersrand release
      CBC/AP Newsstory
      - National Geographicspecial edition - with videos and pictures
      - The Atlanticstory