Remains of extinct 250,000-year-old human found in cave in historic discovery

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A historic discovery of human remains, the first of its kind, has been found inside a deep cave.

The remains of a young archaic human, known as a “Homo Naledi”, was found in the South African cave in 2015.

It has now been confirmed as a Homo Naledia, which is an extinct species of Hominin, which is part of the human family tree, but a different part to the one today's humans can be found.

And Professor Lee Berger, project leader and Director of the Centre for Exploration of the Deep Human Journey at Wits University, has said that the partial skull found is thought to belong to a child, aged between four to six years old.

It is also thought to have died 250,000 years ago.

Other fragments of the body have also been found.

Mr Berger said: “Homo naledi remains one of the most enigmatic ancient human relatives ever discovered.

“It is clearly a primitive species, existing at a time when previously we thought only modern humans were in Africa.

“Its very presence at that time and in this place complexifies our understanding of who did what first concerning the invention of complex stone tool cultures and even ritual practices.”

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And Marina Elliot, one of the team members led by Professor Berger, writing in the Daily Maverick said that the remains were found by colleague Becca Peixotto while in the cave system, known as the Rising Star system.

And she did it while “bent around a corner and almost upside down”.

She said: “Even taking photos of the material in place was difficult because of the small, awkward spaces and Becca had to pass each piece through a little window of rock out to me.

“Before we removed anything, it was documented – photographs, drawings etc – and given a field number and label.

“We wrapped each fragment in bubble wrap, placed it in a plastic container and then put it in a dry bag to be carried up to the surface.”

She also said that the cave system has “a lot more to find” and that a lot more work needs to be done to understand the geology and context of the fossils found within.

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