STATES CHRONICLE – New fossils suggest ancestor Homo Naledi could use tools, judging by the size and shape of their hands and feet. The bone fragments were found in a South African cave on the Humankind World Heritage Site in Johannesburg.
Scientists have gathered new data on our hominin ancestors due to a recent discovery they have made in a South African cave. The finding is the result of a 2013-expedition at the end of which researchers have managed to collect 1,550 fossils from the aforementioned cave.
The newly found bones confirm some of the findings that researchers have made in the past, namely that hominin exemplars had chimpanzee-like traits, but could carry out many of our modern activities due to their modern features. Many of the hand bones that have been collected have elongated forms, which most certainly enable Homo Naledi to grab and use tools.
According to William Harcourt-Smith, one of the lead authors of the study, researchers have carefully analyzed the bone structure of the fossilized feet and discovered there were many similarities between our feet and the limbs of Homo Naledi. For the current research, scientists compared approximately 107 feet elements and a full adult foot.
150 hand bones were also discovered in the Denaldi Chamber of the South African cave. These fragments, together with the complete adult hand indicate a strong presence of Neanderthal-like features. Due to these particularities, scientists have estimated that Homo Naledi was capable of grasping stone tools and using them.
The minute analysis of the bone fragments indicate that Homo Naledi had ankle joints, heel bones and big toes that allowed them to stand and walk just like modern day humans do. Our ancestor, however, could also climb trees, according to scientists. The lower arch and the curved phalanges prove the feet were perfect for climbing trees.
It is not yet certain when hominin developed modern traits, but researchers estimate that it was approximately 2 million years ago. The extinct species could have started walking instead of climbing right before Homo Naledi appeared, according to paleontologists.
Investigators will continue to search the South African cave because they think the site holds many more fossils. So far, researchers did not find any utensils in the cave, but they will continue to look for evidence.
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