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Dr Marina Elliott, Exploration Scientist at Wits and one of the original “underground astronauts” on the 2013 Rising Star Expedition, says she had always felt that the naledi fossils were “young”.

“I’ve excavated hundreds of the bones of , and from the first one I touched, I realised that there was something different about the preservation, that they appeared hardly fossilised.” Homo naledi’s significant impact In an accompanying paper, led by Berger, entitled , the team discuss the importance of finding such a primitive species at such a time and place.

“After passing through a squeeze of about 25cm, you have to descend along vertical shafts before reaching the chamber.

While slightly easier to get to, the Lesedi chamber is, if anything, more difficult to work in due to the tight spaces involved.” Hawks points out that while the Lesedi chamber is “easier” to get into than the Dinaledi chamber, the term is relative.

“I have never been inside either of the chambers, and never will be.

In fact, I watched Lee Berger being stuck for almost an hour, trying to get out of the narrow underground squeeze of the Lesedi chamber.” Berger eventually had to be extracted using ropes tied to his wrists.

The discovery of a second chamber has led the team to argue that there is more support for the controversial hypothesis that , species that lived nearly two million years ago.

Media release from Wits University Homo naledi’s surprisingly young age opens up more questions on where we come from Johannesburg – Scientists today announced that the Rising Star cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named , which was first announced in September 2015, was alive sometime between 335 and 236 thousand years ago.

This places this population of primitive small- brained hominins at a time and place that it is likely they lived alongside These include a child and a partial skeleton of an adult male with a remarkably well-preserved skull.

“Eventually, six independent dating methods allowed us to constrain the age of this population of may have survived for as long as two million years alongside other species of hominins in Africa.

At such a young age, in a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene, it was previously thought that only (modern humans) existed in Africa.

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