HOMO NALEDI – More Answers or More Questions?

<img src="homo naledi.jpg" alt="Homo naledi" width="300" height="150">

HOMO NALEDI – The Missing Link?

With the revealing of new found Homo naledi fossil in September 2015, in the Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng, one might wonder if it will finally provide the answer to the missing link for evolutionists as some might believe, between man and ape (if there was any) or does it now rise even more questions? Some of these questions will remain hanging, especially while the fossils could not be dated yet and might not be for years to come, as two dating methods already failed. According to Wikipedia, the lineage to which the Homo naledi belonged suggests it could have lived 2.5 to 2.8 million years ago. Nonetheless, this marked super exciting times, especially for paleoanthropologist and also National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Professor Lee Berger from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS).

Triumph for Berger – at last!

After Berger started working for the WITS University in the early 1990’s, he battled to prove others in his field wrong believing that the roots of our species lies in East Africa. He believed that South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind holds the answers. Almost 20 years with minor findings would seem to strengthen the ideas of his counterparts, until he and his son found primitive hominin fossils sticking out of rocks about 16 kilometres from the Rising Star caves in 2008. After he called on recreational cavers to be on the lookout for any fossils, Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter finally discovered the chamber in 2013 in the cave explored by many others before, including themselves.

Underground Astronauts

Within a few days, Berger was snowed under with applications after his requests on social media for a specific kind of scientists to do caving work, some two years before the big announcement. They would remove the Homo naledi fossils from the Dinaledi chamber deep inside the Rising Star cave system. This followed the accidental discovery of this chamber by the two cavers (Tucker and Hunter) while looking for new discoveries. The two men are both of slender build, however one of them dislocated a shoulder while pushing through the narrow area on his way out. Apart from the obvious criteria of certain qualifications and skills, the cavers had to be of petite built to fit through a very narrow (18 centimetres) part followed by a 12 metre vertical shaft, the only entrance to the cave. Six women from all over the world, comically referred by Berger as his underground astronauts, were chosen for this delicate but extremely dangerous and difficult work.

Most Peculiar Graveyard

Although the ritual of burying the dead in a common place was always solely a human trait, all evidence point to the Homo naledi disposing of their dead into the complete isolated and almost inaccessible Dinaledi chamber. A large amount of skeletons from all ages being dumped over a vast period of time were found. The bodies were supposedly placed through the narrow opening into the chamber around the time of their death. It would be impossible for the fossils being carried into the chamber by water or predators, or by any other means for that matter. No other type of fossil was found amongst those of the Homo naledi.

Interesting, no doubt!

  • This species has both human (hands for tool usage, feet and their burial rituals) as well as ape like characteristics (shoulders for climbing and a small brain). Biology found enough features to categorise it into the hominin species. When aged, it could change what was known about human development before, says Professor Berger.

  • The average H. naledi was about 1.5 metres in height and 45 kilograms in weight with a small brain similar to earlier Homo species.

  • The bones of fifteen individuals were found to date (1 550 fossil pieces), but according to Berger, this is just the tip of the iceberg and many more is still to be found.

  • It is still unclear how they could move around within in the deep dark passages. Could they have used some kind of fire torch?

The Evolution Debacle

The famous saying goes: Desperate times call for desperate measures. As far as it goes for the evolution of our world and it’s habitants, a saying of Modern times call for modern measures might apply. Everything is ever evolving forever more. The one constant in life we can count on is change. Different types of evolution take place every single day in all areas of life, which doesn’t necessarily provide proof for any Darwin theories or question Moses’ creation theories in the Holy Bible. It is just as it is, thanks to our ever-changing modern life and technological inventions. We all have our own theories and whether we believe in the Bible or the big bang is up to every individual to decide for themselves. As long as we never stop learning, questioning and seize to change for the better.