(December 2015) A scientist from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and another from the University of Colorado Denver were part of an international team that in September announced the discovery of a new species of hominin, a small creature with a tiny brain that opens the door to a new way of thinking about our ancient ancestors.
The discovery of 15 individuals, consisting of 1,550 bones, represents the largest fossil hominin find on the African continent.
“We found adults and children in the cave who are members of genus Homo but very different from modern humans,” said CU Denver Associate Professor of Anthropology Charles Musiba, PhD, who took part in a press conference near the discovery inside the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site outside Johannesburg, South Africa. “They are very petite and have the brain size of chimpanzees. The only thing similar we know of
“The hand has human-like features for manipulation of objects and curved fingers that are well adapted for climbing,” Orr said. “But its exact position on our family tree is still unknown.”
The new species has been dubbed Homo
One of the most intriguing aspects of the discovery is that the bodies appear to have been deposited in the cave intentionally. Scientists have long believed this sort of ritualized or repeated behavior was limited to humans.
The team of 35 to 40 scientists was led by Lee Berger, research professor in the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. It was supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Research Foundation. The October issue of National Geographic magazine featured the discovery as its cover story. It