Thursday, 10 September 2015

New species of human relative discovered

A new member of the family tree has been discovered, as scientists in South Africa claim they have found a 'new species of human relative'.

The discovery is the single largest fossil hominin find made on the African continent and it is expected to shake up the evolutionary tree.

The remains of Homo Naledi were discovered in the Cradle of Humankind, about 40 kilometres (24 miles) west of Johannesburg, in a chamber some 90 metres from the cave entrance.

The species appears to have deliberately placed the bodies of its dead in the remote cave, the type of behaviour previously thought to be limited to humans. 

According to paleoanthropologist John Hawks, the creature may be an early member of the evolutionary group including humans and our closest extinct relatives, but it is not thought to be a direct ancestor of current-day humans beings.

Professor Lee Berger with Homo Naledi skull
Professor Lee Berger, of South Africa's Wits University, who led the team that made the discovery, said: "What we have is a tall hominid, between 1.45 and 1.5 metres tall, was very skinny, had powerful joint muscles and had a brain about the size of my fist."

This find has excited researchers, who believe there may be hundreds or even thousands more fossilised remains waiting to be unearthed in the cave.

You can read more about this story on the BBC Website.

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