In the last week, we humans have added a new member to our family tree. While not exactly human, Homo Naledi is a part of a long lineage of hominids that evolved into modern man. A long lost relative.
The new species was discovered by Dr. Lee Berger and his team of anthropologists and geologists in South Africa. Although, it would not have happened without a small fit team, who also happened to be trained scientists on facebook. These scientists responded to this ad on facebook and lucked upon the find of a lifetime.
There was an obstacle that stood between the scientists and their discovery, and it had a gap that was only 18 centimeters wide. Hence the need for small people that also happened to hold the right Phd. Once the tiny group that ended up being 6 women, made it past the opening they were in for a treat. Not one, but 15 individual skeletons were found of a previously unknown hominid species. Anthropology geeks around the world rejoiced.
So far we know that Homo Nadeli shares characteristics of modern humans and apes. Their brains are smaller, about the size of an orange, but their feet are just like ours. And its seems....they may have had an advanced enough culture to have funeral rites. With so many skeletons found in one place, it begs the question---was this more than just an accident, or was this intentional? Did this species, Homo Nadeli, bury their dead and have a funeral?
This find isn't only about the past, and piecing together a historical record. It is about redefining what makes us human. Understanding who we are and what our place is in the world has been the work of mankind since we could contemplate our own existence. Homo Nadeli has opened one more chapter to our story, that continues to be written.