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New species with human features found in South Africa

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 01:26

Scientists say newly discovered Homo naledi shared a similar behavior to humans - they buried their dead - a practice once believed to be exclusive to Homo sapiens. Deborah Gembara reports.

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Scientists in South Africa say they have uncovered a new species --- one with human-like features ---and apparently very human behavior. Bone fragments of Homo naledi were found in a deep cave, 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, by a team that included Lee Berger from the University of Witwatersrand. (SOUNDBITE)(English) RESEARCH PROFESSOR IN HUMAN EVOLUTION IN UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND, LEE BERGER, SAYING; "We have called it Homo naledi, it is a remarkable species like nothing we ever seen before, a tiny little head the size of an orange with very human like size teeth, but also teeth that are shaped like more primitive hominin. The body is unusual, ape like in the shoulders, primitive in the pelvis but the upper limbs and lower limbs are largely human-like, well that is except for the very curved distal phalanges of the fingers which indicate...which create a very odd package, a mosaic hominid, that was clearly a long distance walker but also something that was the very roots of our genus." The resemblence to us doesn't end there --- naledi also probably buried their dead, behavior that may place Naledi closer to us on the family tree than even chimpanzees. Scientists are still trying to figure out naledi's age. Complicating matters is the fact that the fossils of no other animals were found inside the cave -- a detail that could help give a time-stamp for when naledi lived.

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New species with human features found in South Africa

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 01:26