Discovering a new species of human ancestor!

kivell_headerIn case you’ve missed the extraordinary news coverage over the last two weeks … Our very own Dr Tracy Kivell and Dr Matt Skinner have been at the centre of a media frenzy since it was announced that bones found in a cave in South Africa belong to a human ancestor which had not previously been identified.

Tracy and Matt are part of a research team who have been excavating and analysing the 1550+ fossil elements discovered in the Rising Star cave, within the Humankind World Heritage Site northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa since 2013.  The team recovered parts of at least 15 individuals of the same species with almost every bone being represented multiple times. Homo naledi was named after the Rising Star cave; “naledi” means “star” in the local Sesotho language.

The research was originally published in two papers published in the journal eLife and reported in a cover story in the October issue of National Geographic magazine and a NOVA/National Geographic Special

Tracy subsequently published this week, as lead author, an additional paper in Nature Communications focusing on the hand bone of Homo naledi.

Below is a very small sample of this week’s media coverage:
BBC News:
NY Times:
National Geographic:

Needless to say we are extremely proud of Tracy and Matt and excited to see research conducted by our colleagues on news feeds across the globe.


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