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If these skulls were shown to scale (and they are not), the composite skull of this Homo naledi (left), with a braincase of only 560 cc, would be lost beside the modern human skull shown on the right.With its small size, sloped face, and lack of protruding nasal bones, however, it could easily accommodate an australopithecine ape’s brain.The other parts retain bits of their primitive past.”5 Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum goes so far as to say Homo naledi is an early human species most similar to the eclectic mixture of bones and small skulls found at Dmanisi and identified by some anthropologists as Homo erectus.6 (See “Does the Dmanisi Discovery Demonstrate We Are All One Family?” to learn more about that controversial collection of fossils.) Homo erectus fossils have been found in many locations, including South Africa.The fossils were harvested by a team of slender scientists and spelunkers who had to belly crawl 80 meters through a narrow tunnel, climb a rock wall, and then drop down a chute into the chamber where other spelunkers had reported finding bones.The bones seem to belong to at least 15 infants, juveniles, and adults of the same species—whatever it is.If much more recent, they could be a relic species that persisted in isolation.

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He believes they are Homo but not human, bridging a gap between australopithecines and humans.The lower ribcage widens just like the ribcage of australopithecine apes.And while Homo naledi reportedly has a “generally humanlike ankle and foot” in that the shapes of some of the foot bones could be consistent with an arched foot, this is described in the study as a lower arch with a different orientation than typical of the modern human foot.2 The study describing Homo naledi, published in the journal e Life, indicates the wrist, hands, and thumbs were proportioned in such a way to be able to manipulate tools.(As we noted recently, another team of scientists surveying australopithecine hands confirmed that although australopithecines have longer thumbs than living apes, their finger-thumb proportions resemble neither human nor chimpanzee hands. ” to explore this point further.) Likewise, while Homo naledi’s thumb is a little longer than that of Australopithecus afarensis, the authors make no claim that it matches that of humans, indicating instead that it differs from known hominins.3 Australopithecine finger-thumb proportions reveal diversity among apes, not evolutionary progress in grip engineering.Nothing about Homo naledi’s hand indicates it belonged to a human.

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