Montshire Museum of Science to receive Homo naledi specimens

Nov 02, 2015

For Immediate Release

Renowned Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger will donate cast specimens from Homo naledi, one of the most significant archaeological finds in recent history, to the Montshire Museum of Science on Tuesday, November 17 at 3 p.m.

Berger, along with Dartmouth Associate Professor of Anthropology Jeremy DeSilva, who helped analyze the bones of Homo naledi, will be presenting the specimens and leading an informal discussion with Museum visitors.

In 2013, guided by a pair of local cavers, Berger discovered ancient fossils just outside Johannesburg, deep inside the Rising Star cave, through a passage so dangerously narrow that Berger had to recruit small cavers to access them. There, 30 meters underground, in the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage site, Berger’s team uncovered more than 1,550 fossil elements, representing an unprecedented 15 individuals in what they believe to be a burial site. He named the new species Homo naledi.

“We’ve found a most remarkable creature,” says Berger. This new species appears to have intentionally deposited the bodies of its dead in the remote chamber—a behavior previously thought to be limited to humans. This new discovery is the single largest fossil hominin find in Africa to date. It shakes up our understanding of the human family tree and has the potential to transform understanding of human evolution.

Lee Berger, an Eagle Scout and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science in the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Jeremy “Jerry” DeSilva is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. He is a paleoanthropologist, specializing in the locomotion of the first apes (hominoids) and early human ancestors (hominins).

To learn more about the Homo naledi discovery:

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