Scientists Say They've Discovered A New Species of Humans

Homo naledi’s hands were curved more than modern humans’, indicating that they were good climbers. (Photo: Peter Schmid, CC BY)

According to Living on Earth, two years ago, paleoanthropologists climbed deep into South Africa’s Rising Star Cave system and found hundreds of skeletons of what scientists now believe is a new hominin species, called Homo naledi. Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb follows one of the spelunking scientists down into the cave’s entrance and hears about the fortuitous find by some of the excavation’s lead researchers, as well as the question of whether or not this species deliberately buried its dead.  
Marina Elliot (left) and Steven Tucker (third from left), the caver who actually found the fossils originally. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)
 

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Dawn of Humanity

NOVA and National Geographic present exclusive access to a unique discovery of ancient remains. Located in an almost inaccessible chamber deep in a South African cave, the site required recruiting a special team of experts slender enough to wriggle down a vertical, pitch-dark, seven-inch-wide passage. Most fossil discoveries of human relatives consist of just a handful of bones. But down in this hidden chamber, the team uncovered an unprecedented trove—so far, over 1,500 bones—with the potential to rewrite the story of our origins. They may help fill in a crucial gap in the fossil record and tell us how Homo, the first member of the human family, emerged from ape-like ancestors like the famous Lucy.