Prehistoric gravesite offers evidence of a new species of human relatives

skeleton of prehistoric ancestor of humans

Image: National Geographic via Texas A&M University

A discovery of several ancient skeletons in a South African cave is being hailed as a new species of human relative and could provide important new clues of mankind’s origin, says a team of researchers from 32 institutions around the world that includes a Texas A&M University anthropologist.

The discovery of Homo naledi, a remarkable new species of human relative, in a cave outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, was announced by the University of Witwatersrand, the National Geographic Society and the South African National Research Foundation on Sept. 10. The finds are described in two papers published in the journal eLife.

Darryl de Ruiter, professor of anthropology at Texas A&M, along with Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand and an explorer-in-residence of National Geographic, and Paul Dirks of James Cook University in Australia, was one of the original finders of the skeletons in 2013 in the cave, located a few miles from Johannesburg. The discovery is featured in the October issue of National Geographic magazine and the focus of a PBS-Nova special titled “Dawn of Humanity.”

More at the College of Liberal Arts

* Read the National Geographic article, “This Face Changes the Human Story, But How?