The Dawn of Humanity


1.) Discuss the steps that led to the discovery of Homo naledi. How do you think these women felt during this process?

Lee Berger and his colleagues discovered some hominin remains in a well-known cave and needed experienced and professional scientists/ paleoanthropologists to see what else could be down in the Rising Star Cave. Lee made an announcement in search of people who fit his specific requirements in order to help him on his search. Safety lines, lights, cables, and cameras were installed so that Lee Berger could watch from the command post. The ladies that participated in this experience first stated on the video that they were excited and also nervous for this expedition, because of the little information they knew, they didn’t know what to expect except that they will be under ground. But at the end when they unveiled the most important piece, a part of a skull, Lee announced it was definitely part homo.

2.) Discuss the physical characteristics that indicate that Homo Naledi is a member of genus Homo and not an Australopithecine.

“H. Naledi fossils have a combination of primitive and derived characteristics, such as the hip region is of australopithecine -like but the cranium is smaller to Homo erectus, protruding supraorbital torus and elongated cranial vault”. (Larsen pg. 359)

Other characteristics are flared pelvis (transitional form of bipedalism), long femur; angled inward towards the knee (bipedalism). H. Naledi has versatile hand bones suggesting tool use, thus most of his characteristics are of the genus Homo and not from Australopithecine.

3.) Why does Lee Berger and John Hawks believe that the ‘Rising Star Chamber’ may be an example of an intentional burial site?  Why would this be a ‘big deal’ to paleoanthropology?

Lee Berger and John Hawks believe the ‘Rising Star Chamber’ could be an intentional burial site because they discovered fifteen individuals from infant to elderly, and oddly, the bodies appeared to have been isolated in the cave. “H. Naledi used the Rising Star cave system as a place to dispose of its dead”. (Nat Geo, “Body of Evidence”) Later in a separate video on “Dawn of humanity” also suggests that maybe a predator could have been disposing of the bodies as well, or that these hominin’s could of fallen in, after analyzing the breakage in each bone. This would be a big deal to paleontologists because the Rising Star team believes it could be the primary driver of early hominin diversity.

4.) Discuss why the process of human evolution should be viewed as a braided delta instead of as a tree.  Do you think that the general public has a misunderstanding of how human evolution occurred (in a linear fashion?)

Viewing human evolution as a braided delta instead of a tree shows that we are intertwined with our oldest ancestors. As some species became extinct, others flowed back into the mainstream only through very small channels of genetic exchange. Genetic exchanges between different populations were what formed some human adaptations.

A large population does not accept evolution, especially if they think apes could be a common relative to humans, but mostly because some people believe that evolution is ant-Christian or anti-God. Though in evolutionary biology, and science they do not mention whether god exits or not “Evolutionary theory does not say that we evolved from chimps; rather it says that we share a common ancestor with chimps. The process of evolution leads to a branching pattern of relationships among organisms, not a linear progression.” (Cornell University)

5.) Do you think that Homo naledi should be considered it’s own species?  Or should these fossils be included with Homo habilis or Homo erectus?  Describe why you think this.

Naledi is unique, but most similar to early Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis. H. naledi has humanlike manipulatory adaptations of the hand and wrist, with long, curved finger bones. It also includes other certain characteristics of its cranial structure and dentition, which appear derived from earlier hominin species.

Other characteristics, however, such as its small cranial capacity, a flared upper pelvis, show that it is similar to later hominin species, but every species is a mix of ancestral and derived traits. I think that H.Nalidela should not be considered its own species because it seems to have most similarities to hominin


1) Homo Naledi was discovered by Lee Berger and his colleagues around the year of 2015 on the month of September. The monumental fossil had a staggering cranial capacity of about 560cc and a very flexible pectoral girdle with long finger bones and human-like foot bones. Steps included guiding Berger’s team into a dark cave to find the remains. Women most likely felt captivated and stunned by the discovery as it served as a stepping stone as to what they’ve accomplished as a team. (Larsen 2017)

2) Some physical characteristics that proved Homo Nadeli to being Homo include a smaller-brained genus in combination with a stone-tool culture and even a smaller tooth anatomy. Some of these tools included a change in diet and this shift had been a critical step in providing energy to the brain. (Proctor 2017)

3) They may believe it to be an intentional burial site due to the fact that there were other dispositions of other hominin remains in the same cave. It was deliberated if they intentionally knew about the remains in the first place or if they just happened to stumble upon the remains by mistake. In my own opinion, this would cause trouble to paleanthropology because it may just risk the career of many puts give it a bad reputation to the public eye.

4) It should be viewed as a braided delta due to the fact that many geographic ranges were pretty much related when found. I believe that the human eye has the wrong vision of understanding the evolution of humans because everyone today has a filtered image as to what they see. Religion can be a factor as well as one’s own personal belief or simply just a cultural belief. They don’t want to believe in science and they are afraid of acknowledging the reality.

5) I personally think that the Homo Nadeli should not have been its own species because the skeletal remains were so similar to a hominoid. It simply wouldn’t have been necessary to put the species into its own category as the two have pretty much almost the same remains. For instance, both a human-shaped skull was nearly identical when compared side by side to the Homo Nadeli skull. As previously mentioned, their feet were also very similar as well.

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