Such braincases are much smaller than those seen in most archaic humans1 and less than half the average for modern humans.Nevertheless, despite a sloped lower face and—based on the published photographs—no visible evidence of the protruding nasal bones typical of all humans, Berger has identified the fossils as a new species of human ancestor, Homo naledi.Nevertheless, Lee Berger has of yet made no attempt to have the fossils dated.Based on his own presuppositions about what kind of hominins9 should exist at any given time in human evolutionary history, he believes the bones look like a good fit for 2 to 2.5 million years ago, even though he believes them to be unique.Homo naledi—a South African fossil assemblage classified as a new Homo species by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger—is stirring up controversy as evolutionists debate its identity and significance.The cache of 1,550 bones was recovered from loose dirt in the nearly inaccessible Dinaledi chamber of South Africa’s Rising Star cave system.He says this is “an animal right on the cusp of the transition from Australopithecus to Homo.
The bones seem to belong to at least 15 infants, juveniles, and adults of the same species—whatever it is.
If that age is accurate, he believes Homo naledi would change the way we look at human history by revealing that several variations of Homo were evolving 2 to 3 million years ago in Africa and that he had, as National Geographic, which funded the project, explains, “quite possibly found the root of the Homo family tree.”10 On the other hand, if they are only tens of thousands of years old, then that would change the way we look at humans, National Geographic points out, by showing that even while we were supposedly evolving bigger brains “a separate, small-brained, more primitive-looking Homo was loose on the landscape.” Carbon dating, if it demonstrated the presence of carbon-14 in these fossils, would rule out a millions-of-years age.11 In assessing the significance of the variations in what he sees as primitive humans, Stringer says, “What we are seeing is more and more species of creatures that suggests that nature was experimenting with how to evolve humans, thus giving rise to several different types of human-like creatures originating in parallel in different parts of Africa.
Only one line eventually survived to give rise to us.”12 Nature experimented?
Homo naledi skulls (560 cc and 465 cc) are less than half the size of modern humans’ (1,000-1,500 cc) and substantially smaller than typical archaic human skulls.
Image of Homo naledi reproduced from Wikimedia; modern human skull reproduced from User9637786_380/i Stock/Thinkstock.