Daily Management Review

Scientists Discover The Skeleton Of A Species That Is Thought To Be The Missing Link Before The Modern Man


09/24/2015


Evolutionary chain adds yet another missing link with the discovery of Homo naledi, which displays a behavioural pattern thought unique to humans.



The National Geography in collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand has brought about a “remarkable story of human heritage” that recounts an unheard chapter of history, the missing link which we were unaware of. The duo has come upon the discovery of an “early human ancestor” just before our genus in the rung of evolution, which has been named as Homo naledi
 
The fossil of this human genus was found in Africa and was formed out of “the richest single hominin assemblage”. The new found specie “seems to display” a particular behavioural pattern which was so far “believed to be unique to humans”. The said behavioural trait deals with disposing a dead body of a fellow being “in an isolated chamber”. This discovery has now proven wrong all the textbooks that are being used currently.
 
About two years ago, a team of amateur cavers exploring the “Rising Star” cave system, which is situated within the “Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site” in South Africa, chanced upon the fossil of the “Homo naledi”. This incident set off the “Rising Star Expedition” in the month of November 2013 which lasted over a period of three weeks and involved “a team of 60 scientists and volunteer cavers. The explorer had set off to retrieve a single skeleton, but within a three days time into the expedition, it was clear that they were into “something different and extraordinary” informed the lead researcher Lee Berger.
 
Subsequently, the team recruited “15 individuals from a single hominin species” which were found in a single dark chamber that is situated “90 meters (295 feet) from the entrance” which were recovered as over “1,500 fossil elements”. The new discovered species were named after the “chamber”, whereby “naledi” means “star” in a South African language called “Sesotho”. Nevertheless, scientists believe there is still lot left to be discovered, as in Berger’s language:
“The floor is practically made of bones of these individuals”.
 
The skeletons recovered were an amalgam of various body types and age group including infants, adults, teen, and elderly ones. The skeletal structures indicate that they are of tall individuals with “astonishingly tiny head” which encased a brain as tiny as “the smallest australopith”. There was a stark similarity between the skeletal whereby the scientists believe that they all could be very well from “a multi-generational family”.
 
The transitional element of skeletal structure that differentiate between modern man and his earlier ancestors is quite clear as the “pelvis and shoulders” forms are of primitive “cone-shaped core” while their culmination points are very human like. Nevertheless, the species also had “highly curved fingers”, while they had more mobility of movement in their shoulders. These two evidences suggest that they were into climbing and the fingers helped them to have better grip over things. In fact, their legs were very much like ours.
 
Given the fact of the huge mass of skeletons, of same species, found in a cell which is extremely hard to reach as it had a single entry point through a crack as wide as “17.5 centimeters”, scientists were left with the only possibility that these skeletons displayed a deliberate behavioural pattern. All evidences suggest that this specie was “repeatedly disposing of its dead in a protected area, away from the external environment”. Moreover, there were no other species of skeleton present apart from that of a few rodents and birds. Berger remarks while pondering over this particular behavioural trial which were thought unique with the human:
“What does that mean for us? Did we inherit it, has it always been there in our lineage, or did they invent it?”
 
Furthermore, Bergers adds on “referring to the nearby National Heritage Site of Swartkrans”:
“Is it a coincidence that the earliest evidence of controlled fire is only 800 meters away? It’s speculation… But animals don’t go into the dark.”
 
However, nothing else is known about the Homo naledi, while Berger informs
“We can infer from their bodies that they are long-distance walkers, again that’s something almost unique to humans. And it’s pretty clear from those fingers that they’re climbing, but we don’t know what they’re climbing. That’s not a tree climbing hand.”





References:
http://www.iflscience.com
 







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