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A new haul of ancient human remains has been described from an important cave site in South Africa.
The finds, including a well-preserved skull, bolster the idea that the Homo naledi people deliberately deposited their dead in the cave.
Evidence of such complex behaviour is surprising for a human species with a brain that's a third the size of ours.
Despite showing some primitive traits it lived relatively recently, perhaps as little as 235,000 years ago.
That would mean the naledi people could have overlapped with the earliest of our kind - Homo sapiens.
The fact that Homo naledi was alive at the same time and in the same region of Africa as early forms of Homo sapiens gives us an insight into the huge diversity of different human forms in existence during the Late Pleistocene.
"Here in southern Africa, in this time range, you have the Florisbad skull, which may be an ancestor or close relative of modern humans; you've got the Kabwe skull, which is some kind of archaic human and possibly quite divergent; you've got evidence from modern people's genomes that archaic lineages have been contributing to modern populations and may have existed until quite recently,"
"You have this very primitive form of Homo [naledi] that has survived alongside these other species for a million years or more. It is amazing the diversity that we are now seeing that we had missed before."
The researchers say that finding the remains of multiple individuals in a separate chamber bolsters the idea that Homo naledi was caching its dead. If correct, this surprising - and controversial claim - hints at an intelligent mind and, perhaps, the stirrings of culture.
originally posted by: knowledgehunter0986
a reply to: network dude
That would be quite amazing if they did indeed have some type of burial ritual.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001 comes to mind. In the opening scene, (atleast how I interpreted it) a perfect symmetrical object (a monolith in this case) could be enough to trigger something in the brain to evolve to a higher level of thinking. (Because nothing in nature is perfect)