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Alum Lee Berger and Current Graduate Student Announce New Information on Homo naledi

“Neo” skull (frontal view) of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber. Photo credit: Wits University/ John Hawks

New information on Georgia Southern University alumnus Lee Berger’s, Ph.D., latest find Homo naledi was featured in four articles in eLife Journal and in major national newspapers including USA Today.

Berger and other scientists have dated the bones previously found in 2013 at the Rising Star Cave System near Johannesburg, South Africa. They determined that Homo naledi lived between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago in a similar time frame as our own descendants.

This new data has a dramatic effect on what we know about our own history.

“We can no longer assume that we know which species made which tools, or even assume that it was modern humans that were the innovators of some of these critical technological and behavioural breakthroughs in the archaeological record of Africa,” says Berger. “If there is one other species out there that shared the world with modern humans in Africa, it is very likely there are others. We just need to find them.”

Working with Berger on one of the papers is current Department of Sociology and Anthropology graduate student, Hlophe Nompumelelo.

Nompumelelo was a co-author of the article “New Fossil Remains of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, South Africa” published in eLife Journal and was one of the archaeologists who answered Berger’s call to help explore the cave system.

She is pursuing a Master of Arts in Social Sciences at Georgia Southern University and joined the program in 2016.

Berger graduated from Georgia Southern in 1989 with a bachelor of arts in anthropology and holds a Ph.D. in palaeo-anthropology from the University of Witwatersand in South Africa. He is currently a professor at the University of Witwatersand.

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Posted in Alumni, Sociology & Anthropology, Students