How Scientists Identified Our New Evolutionary Relative

Sep 11, 2015 By John-Michael Bond

What is the process of creating a scientific consensus when faced with a complicated puzzle? In October of 2013 new hominin fossils was discovered in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system. Scientists found 1550 fossil specimens, providing multiple examples of different skeletal elements. None of these samples were attributable to previously known hominin species, and thus Homo naledi was born.

To study this newly discovered evolutionary link, paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger, brought together a team of experts and specialists for a 30-day workshop. 

In this clip from the NOVA/National Geographic special, “Dawn of Humanity," scientists discuss the processes and challenges they faced while of examining the Naledi fossils. The NOVA documentary will premiere on September 16, 2015, but if you would like to get a head start you can read the study's findings by visiting this site,

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