September 11, 2015 3:31 pm

new species of human

A new discovery in South Africa has profound implications for everything we know about human heritage, apparently.

Scientists from the University of Witwatersrand, in collaboration with National Geographic, have allegedly discovered a new species of human. The Homo naledi.

new species of human

Homo naledi. Credit: John Hawks/Wits University

Remains of the species were found accidently by amateur cavers two years ago. An expedition then set out to recover the skeletons, expecting to find a single one they were surprised when they uncovered 15 individuals.

And this species seem to display a behaviour long believed to be unique to modern humans – burying their dead in an isolated chamber. The fossils were found in a dark, isolated cave that is extremely difficult to access. After ruling out all other possibilities of how they got there, the team deduced that they were ritualistically buried in the cave.

new species of human

new species of human

A selection of age groups were allegedly found, from infants to teens, to young adults and elderly. Homo naledi were fairly tall, with small heads. They also had incredibly human like hands, but their shoulders were able to rotate more than ours, suggesting they were keen climbers.

At the moment scientists don’t know how old the fossils are – or how long the species existed – but they estimate that it’s a minimum of two million years old, if not three.

They’ve also said that Homo naledi could possibly be the base for our genus.

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This post was written by Nadia Vella