New Human Ancestor

A team of researchers from the University of Witswatersrand (Wits) have discovered a brand new species of ancient human ancestors in South Africa.

nadeli skeleton

Homo naledi skeleton CC John Hawks, Wits University

The Chamber of Stars

The cave housed 15 partial skeletons of what they’ve named Homo naledi.

Over 1,500 remains filled the chamber with everything from toddlers, adolescents, adults, and elderly providing a perfect timeline for study.

“It is the most significant and extensive discovery of early human relatives ever made on the continent of Africa.” –Prof. Lee Berger

They believe H. naledi lived in Africa up to 3 million years ago.

nadeli-hand Homo naledi hand CC John Hawks, Wits University

nadeli-teeth Homo naledi mandible CC John Hawks, Wits University

nadeli-skull Homo naledi skull CC Wits University

Homo naledi’s Stats:

  • 5 feet tall
  • 100 lbs
  • Brain similar in size to an orange
  • Human-like teeth
  • Curved fingers


The most interesting part of this discovery to scientists is the practice this species had of interring its dead.

“Something we thought was unique to humans, and, in fact, maybe identified us.” -Prof. Lee Berger

The deceased bodies were laid to rest in the Chamber of Stars, a cave 30 miles Northwest of Johannesburg. No other ancient hominids are known to have had any sort of rituals.

Researchers have placed H. naledi between Homo habilis and Homo erectus.


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