Monday, September 14, 2015

ARCHAEOLOGY - Long-Lost Human Ancestor

"Trove of fossils from a long-lost human ancestor is greatest find in decades" PBS NewsHour 9/10/2015


SUMMARY:  Scientists have discovered a new human-like species, deep in a cave system in South Africa.  Researchers have said that the discovery could change our conception of human ancestry.  For more on the discovery, Jeffrey Brown speaks to Jamie Shreeve of National Geographic Magazine and excavation team member Becca Peixotto.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Researchers announced a fossil discovery today that some consider one of the greatest in the last 50 years, and one that could provide an important link in the family tree for all humans.

Jeffrey Brown has the story.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  The bones were found in a deep cave 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg.  And the way they were found and then gathered is another incredible part of the story.

In all, 1,500 fossil remains were brought up and contained remains of 15 individuals of all different ages.  Scientists named the new species Homo Naledi and created this rendering.

The quest is chronicled in the new issue of “National Geographic” and in a special documentary airing on “NOVA” next week called “The Dawn of Humanity.” (link to full show, 1:53:07)

Here’s a short clip.

NARRATOR:  As the analysis goes on, the bones from the Rising Star cave are finally ready to be presented to the world.

MAN:  We have got a new species of early human in the genus Homo, and that’s tremendously exciting.

We have never had anything in that transition period between the late Australopithecus and the earliest members of our genus in any kind of abundance, and, boy, we have it in abundance now.

NARRATOR:  To members of the team, the fossils suggest a creature unlike anything ever found before.

MAN:  We are looking at creatures that are humanlike in their feet, humanlike in their hands, humanlike in their teeth.  Everything that interacts directly with the environment is Homo, and everything that’s sort of central, you know, the trunk, the architecture of the vertebral column, the brain, those sorts of things are more primitive.  It’s like evolution is crafting us from the outside in.

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