The newest addition to our genus –Naledi- was discovered on Thursday, 10 September at a cave in South Africa. The 15 partial skeletons have been touted as the "largest ever discovery of primitive human remains in Africa," according to the BBC.
But what information do we have on Homo Naledi? Read on to know interesting facts about the new species.
The Homo Naledi species has mixed traits belonging to humans and apes. They walked upright, climbed trees, used tools, but had small brains similar to our genus, Homo's ape-like ancestors.
They buried their dead. The presence of a large number of Homo Naledi skeletons in one place makes scientists believe that the species left the dead in a cave as a way of burying them.
The entrance to the cave had only a 18-centimeter opening and scientists had to put out a call on social media to find someone skinny enough to go in and collect the bones. Finally, six female 'underground astronauts' were chosen to do the job.
Scientists discovered 1,500 fossils of infants, children, adults and elderly individuals. Their feet are very similar to human feet. The presence of long feet suggests that they were well suited for long distance walking. Their teeth are similar to the earliest members of our genus, Homo Nabilis, but their shoulders bear resemblance to apes.
Scientists say that the Homo Naledi species is 2.5 million to 2.8 million years old. Scientist Lee Burger posits that the species finds its place at the beginning of the Homo group.
An average Homo Naledi weighed about 45 kilograms and was 1.5 meters tall.
Experts believe that the Homo Naledi species may be nature's way of testing the Homo genus.
H. Naledi was named after the Rising Star Cave. Naledi means 'star' in Sesotho, a language spoken in southern part of Africa.