News / South Africa

Adriaan Roets
2 minute read
9 May 2017
10:42 am

Additional Homo Naledi specimens found, fossils finally dated

Adriaan Roets

The child’s skeleton is one of the most complete ever found.

This morning Wits University announced a second chamber in the Rising Star Cave system in the Cradle of Humankind.

The second chamber revealed more important discoveries only a year and a half after the richest fossil hominid site in Africa had been revealed. This morning, Professor Lee Burger of Wits announced new discoveries that includes the skeleton of a child, a partial skeleton of an adult male and a well-preserved skull.

The child’s skeleton is one of the most complete skeletons ever found. The second chamber also uncovered a soon-to-be controversial hypothesis that Homo Naledi deliberately disposed of its dead in these remote caverns. It was also revealed that Homo Naledi found in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system existed 236 000 and 335 000 years ago.

The anatomy of the fossils suggests that their ancestors diverged from the ancestors of modern humans much earlier in time, but work in the Dinaledi chamber is ongoing.

Vice-chancellor of Wits Adam Habib said the latest announcement would not be a single event, but would be part of continuous announcements about who humans are as species.

According to Berger, the Rising Star cave system has uncovered more than 130 hominin species. Today’s announcement is still only the tip of the iceberg as more discoveries are being made.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura was seen beaming during the announcement. According to him, the country is benefiting from these globally significant findings, which will also drive tourism.

According to him, the late 2015 and early 2016 exhibition of Homo Naledi attracted up to 3500 people to Maropeng Visitors Centre a day.

It is an important step to promote tourism to the site west of Johannesburg. The original fossils as well as the new discovery will be on public display at Maropeng from May 25.

The exhibit is the largest display of original fossil hominin material in history. The exhibition is called ‘Almost Human’.