An international team of scientists described for the first time Homo Naledi, a new species of hominid that has features of Australopithecus and that could be the oldest specimen of Homo.
Homo Naledi was discovered in 2013 in the chamber of the cave Dinaledi Rising Star of Africa (near Johannesburg) and their remains were among more than 1,550 fossils, which makes this site in a paleontological treasure.
Here the bones of 15 individuals of the same species were found, which has documented and describe the skeleton of Homo Naledi in great detail.
A complete description of this new kind of hominid is published today in the journal ELIFE.
But how was this guy?
“Homo Naledi is a mosaic of characters form, has a trunk-shaped funnel, not barrel shaped like men today, but like a pyramid, a feature of the Australopithecus or the great apes current as the chimpanzee, “he told Efe researcher Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN) and co-author Markus Bastir.
In addition, “has a small skull, the shape of the first representatives of the genus Homo habilis or as erectus, and a cranial capacity very small, about one third of what occupies our current brain,” he adds.
However, although it is very robust and has a skull and primitive trunk, limbs are “virtually identical to those of modern humans.”
His hands are capable of handling objects that have men now but his fingers and phalanges are curved, which, according to the anatomical experts, means that would be adapted to live in an arboreal habitat, but at the same time, “both wrist bones as palm are very modern, indicating that, although no tools found at the site, with that anatomy could use them well “, clarifies the researcher.
“The feet are also like ours, except that the fingers are slightly curved, which means they would be adapted to living in trees and on the ground.”
Overall, this homo, 1.50 meters and 50 kilos, has features of Australopithecus but is more graceful than this species, which will bring them closer to the first homo.
As for the dating of the fossil, experts still do not dare to give a figure because, the absence of other fossil animals is complicating the analysis but “a team of paleogeologos is analyzing sediments deposit to make a rough estimate,” he explains Bastir.
The oldest Homo World
However, “based on morphology, analyzes place this fossil among the first homo-about 2.5 million years and, if more recent off (less than a million years), would be the test Africa coexistence of species of the genus Homo very different from each other, “says the researcher.
“We are facing a great opportunity to obtain information that will allow us to rebuild our complex evolutionary history” and clarify certain questions such as “whether the reservoir 15 bodies were deliberately placed by their counterparts in the House of Dinaledi”.
Rising Star Workshop
To discover all the secrets of this deposit, the South African government in 2014 organized a workshop entitled “Rising Star Workshop”, largely funded by National Geographic, that allowed scientists around the world and all specialties could share data.
“It was very generous of the discoverers of the site open research paleontologists worldwide, which has served to create a multidiciplinar equipment and give a chance to young researchers at the beginning of their careers,” he says.