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)
(A composite skeleton of H. naledi is surrounded by some of the hundreds of other fossil elements recovered from the Dinaledi Chamber in the Rising Star cave in South Africa. The expedition team was led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand. The find was announced by the University of the Witwatersrand, the National Geographic Society and the South African National Research Foundation and published in the journal eLife. Photo by Robert Clark/National Geographic; Source: Lee Berger, Wits, photographed at Evolutionary Studies Institute.)
Science Friday shares how Homo naledi was discovered. Deep in a South African cave, in the so-called “dark zone” where no light penetrates, paleoanthropologists have made an extraordinary find: more than 1,500 bones, from at least 15 hominin individuals.
Tune in July 8th at 8pm on WSKG TV for episode 2, of Operation Wild, we join a team in South Africa that is trying to help a rhino who was attacked by poachers for her horn. Thandi was nursed back to health by rhino vet Dr Will Fowlds, and he’s joined by a human plastic surgeon who is planning to heal the wound on her face with a world first — a rhino skin graft. Deep in Borneo rainforest, Dr. Birute Galdikass looks after ill and injured orangutans before releasing them into the wild. Orangutan Rosemary has been brought back from the rainforest with her 7-year-old daughter Rodney, because her cataracts make her virtually blind. They will only be released if specialist microsurgery helps Rosemary see again.