archaeological evidence shows Naledia primitive human species with a chimpanzee-like skull and a brain one-third our size, cooked its food over fire and navigated the darkness of underground burrows.
“We have a lot of evidence. It’s everywhere,” says Li Bojie at Wits University in South Africa. “Huge blocks of charcoal, thousands of charred bones, massive fireplaces and baked clay.”
The discovery, still being analyzed and debated, could revolutionize our understanding of the emergence of complex behaviors once thought to be the sole domain of brain species like modern humans and Neanderthals.
Naledi It was first discovered in South Africa’s Rising Star cave system in 2013, when two spelunkers managed to enter the so far Enter an unexplored chamber through a very narrow passage. The surface is littered with thousands of fossilized bones. In 2015, these were declared to belong to a new species.
we now know Naledi The average height is about 144 cm and the weight is about 40 kg. It has a strange mix of primitive and modern features, with ape-like shoulders, a brain only slightly larger than that of a chimpanzee, and teeth “more reminiscent of something millions of years old,” Berger said.
However, dating of its fossil remains in 2017 showed it lives closerbetween 230,000 and 330,00 years ago, which means it may have been related to Homo sapienswhich Evolved in Africa about 300,000 years ago.
But the question remains how Naledi Traversing the Rising Star’s labyrinthine subterranean passages is completely dark and requires complex maneuvers to navigate through rocky gaps just 17.5 centimeters wide.
This inaccessibility means that only 47 people – all of whom are of short stature – have managed to gain access to the Dinaledi room over the past decade, where Naledi Fossils were first discovered. But in August this year, Berg, who is 188cm tall, decided to venture into the maze and lose 25kg in preparation.
“It’s not a space designed for someone like me who’s 6-foot-2. I’m by far the biggest person,” he said. He knew that he might not be able to squeeze out again. “I almost died on the way out,” he said.
The risk paid off. When Berger entered the Dinaledi chamber and looked up, he saw blackened areas and soot particles in the rock. “The roof of the whole room was charred and blackened,” he said.
Coincidentally, at the same time that Berger was observing the soot, his colleague Keneiloe Molopyane CompanyAlso at the University of the Witwatersrand, a small fireplace with charred antelope bones was found in another part of the cave system, and then a larger fireplace was found 15cm below the cave floor next to it. Then, in another area called the Lesedi chamber, Berger found a pile of charred rock with ash and charred bones at the bottom.
This is a remarkable discovery, because many researchers believe that such a small-brained hominin could not have built and used fire within the cave system.Although we have evidence that ancient humans living in what is now Kenya could Controlling fire as early as 1.5 million years agoan ability “often associated with people with larger brains Homo erectussaid Berger.
Naledi They also seem to be using the space in interesting ways, “disposing of dead bodies in one space and cooking animals in the adjacent space,” says Berger. “The ability to make and use fire has finally shown us how Naledi Venture deep into dangerous spaces and explain how they transfer dead relatives into such spaces, which might not have been possible without the light. It also hints at a complex naledi culture at work for us. “
The dating of the charred remains is still in progress, so it was decided to December 1 talkIt proved controversial until a formal scientific analysis was published.
“It’s impossible to properly assess Lee Berger’s claims without seeing the full evidence, but clearly this is coming,” said Chris Stringer at the Natural History Museum in London. “While kudos to Lee and his team for their series of great discoveries, this is not the way to do science or have a scientific debate about potentially very important discoveries.”
However, for francesco de erico Discovered by the University of Bordeaux, France Naledi Possibly having been able to control the fires could provide insight into the way they treated the dead and social organization.
“if Naledi Firepower was shown to have been mastered and used to gain access to the most remote areas of the Rising Star karst system, which may be of great importance in explaining mortuary practices at the site,” he said. Organize actions in terms of time and time and, in the case of mortuary practices, facilitate the participation of several members of the group in collaborative and shared actions. “
For Berger, the discovery of the use of fire was even more revolutionary.If these small-brained humans with many primitive traits can be equipped with the complex cognitive abilities needed to make and control fire, then “we’re starting to see the emergence of a cultural pathway and behavior that, until this moment, we’ve thought of as domain [Homo sapiens and Neanderthals],” He says.
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