Monday, September 14, 2015

Scientists identify a new ancient ancestor

An international team of scientists, including one from the University of Colorado Denver and another from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, announced the discovery of a new species of hominin, a small creature with a tiny brain that opens the door to a new way of thinking about our ancient ancestors. 

This photo provided by National Geographic from their October 2015 issue shows  a composite skeleton of Homo naledi surrounded by some of the hundreds of  other fossil elements recovered from the Rising Star cave in South Africa,  photographed at the Evolutionary Studies Institute of the University of  the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa  [Credit: Robert Clark/National Geographic, Lee Berger/ University of the Witwatersrand via AP] 

The discovery of 15 individuals, consisting of 1,550 bones, represents the largest fossil hominin find on the African continent. 

“We found adults and children in the cave who are members of genus Homo but very different from modern humans,” said CU Denver Associate Professor of Anthropology Charles Musiba, PhD, who took part in a press conference Thursday near the discovery inside the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site outside Johannesburg, South Africa. “They are very petite and have the brain size of chimpanzees. The only thing similar we know of are the so-called ‘hobbits’ of Flores Island in Indonesia.”

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