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Homo sapiens and Their Cousins

Started by Recusant, October 31, 2015, 01:52:11 AM

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Fragments of a Homo naledi child's skull found deep in the Rising Star Cave may indicate some sort of burial practice.

"A child's partial skull adds to the mystery of how Homo naledi treated the dead" | Science News

QuoteA child's partial skull found in a remote section of a South African cave system has fueled suspicion that an ancient hominid known as Homo naledi deliberately disposed of its dead in caves.

An international team led by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg pieced together 28 skull fragments and six teeth from a child's skull discovered in a narrow opening located about 12 meters from an underground chamber where cave explorers first found H. naledi fossils. Features of the child's skull qualify it as H. naledi, a species with an orange-sized brain and skeletal characteristics of both present-day people and Homo species from around 2 million years ago.

"The case is building for deliberate, ritualized body disposal in caves by Homo naledi," Berger said at a November 4 news conference held in Johannesburg. While that argument is controversial, there is no evidence that the child's skull was washed into the tiny space or dragged there by predators or scavengers.

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The paper is open access (click on the red PDF button at the link).

"Immature Hominin Craniodental Remains From a New Locality in the Rising Star Cave System, South Africa" | PaleoAnthropology


Homo naledi is known from the Rising Star cave system, South Africa, where its remains have previously been reported from two localities: the Dinaledi Chamber (U.W. 101) and Lesedi Chamber (U.W. 102). Continued exploration of the cave system has expanded our knowledge of the Dinaledi Chamber and its surrounding passageways (the Dinaledi Subsystem), leading to the discovery of new fossil localities.

This paper discusses the fossil assemblage from the locality designated U.W. 110. This locality is within a narrow fissure of the Dinaledi Subsystem approximately 12 meters southwest of the 2013–2014 excavation. Fossil remains recovered from this locality include six hominin teeth and 28 cranial fragments, all consistent with a single immature hominin individual. The dental morphology of the new specimens supports attribution to H. naledi.

This is the first immature individual of H. naledi to preserve morphological details of the calvaria in association with dental evidence. This partial skull provides information about the maturation of H. naledi and will be important in reconstructing the developmental sequence of immature remains from other H. naledi occurrences. This is the third locality described with H. naledi material in the Rising Star cave system and represents a depositional situation that resembles the Lesedi Chamber in some respects.

[ΒΆ added. - R]
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