Young Homo naledi surprises
Homo naledi’s significant impact.
In an accompanying paper, led by Berger, entitled Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa, the team discusses the importance of finding such a primitive species at such a time and place. They noted that the discovery will have a significant impact on our interpretation of archaeological assemblages and understanding which species made them.
“We can no longer assume that we know which species made which tools, or even assume that it was modern humans that were the innovators of some of these critical technological and behavioural breakthroughs in the archaeological record of Africa,” says Berger. “If there is one other species out there that shared the world with ‘modern humans’ in Africa, it is very likely there are others. We just need to find them.”
John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wits University, an author on all three papers, says: “I think some scientists assumed they knew how human evolution happened, but these new fossil discoveries, plus what we know from genetics, tell us that the southern half of Africa was home to a diversity that we’ve never seen anywhere else”.