(Credit: Scott Williams)

In October 2013, a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin was discovered in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave System in South Africa.  Researchers named the species Homo naledi, and subsequent exploration yielded 1550 specimens representing at least 150 individuals with most skeletal elements represented multiple times.  The finds represent the riches assemblage of associated fossil hominins discovered in Africa to date and one of the most comprehensive representations of skeletal elements across the lifespan, and from multiple individuals, in the hominin fossil record.

The Rising Star Expedition team includes a number of paleoanthropological specialists who have suggested that H. naledi is a morphologically primative species within the genus Homo.  Morphological description and analysis of the specimens is ongoing by a number of team members, including Dr. Scott Williams, who is focused on the description and interpretation of H. naledi‘s axial skeleton.

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