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Of the two adults, one is identified only by a jaw and leg bones.But the skeleton of the third individual, dubbed 'Neo' is remarkably complete.And suddenly at the bottom, it opens up into a large chamber with really stunning stalactites hanging from the ceiling,' Tucker said, hunching his shoulders and jutting his elbows out as he re-enacted the descent.The 50,000-hectare (123,550-acre) area of hilly grasslands where the two were spelunking is recognized as the Cradle of Humankind, featuring a network of caves that has yielded nearly 40 percent of known hominid fossils, according to the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.And in a separate study, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered new remains belonging to three Homo naledi, including one they have named 'Neo', in a separate cave chamber.Using state-of-the-art dating techniques, the researchers have found that Homo naledi lived in Africa between 236,000 and 335,000 years old.- The average height of the Homo naledi was around 5 feet (1.5 metres)- They had a brain the size of an orange - this is around one third the size of a human brain- Homo naledi may have stored the dead, suggesting they were an intelligent species Professor Paul Dirks, who led the study, said: 'The oldest dated fossils of Homo sapiens in Africa are around 200,000 years old.'And now we have a very primitive looking hominid that probably existed at the same time as them.'This is the first time one of these primitive hominids has been found in association with more modern humans in Africa.'The first bones of the Homo naledi species were located in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa's Gauteng province in a remote chamber that can only be accessed via several steep climbs and fissures (arrangement of fossils pictured)Professor Dirks said the implications of the new dates are profound.He said: 'Some of the new bones add detail to what we knew before.'The Neo skeleton has a complete collarbone and a near-complete femur, which help to confirm what we knew about the size and stature of Homo naledi, and that it was both an effective walker and climber.'The vertebrae are just wonderfully preserved, and unique - they have a shape we've only seen in Neanderthals.'Combined, the two collections of Homo naledi fossils give science its most complete record of a hominin species other than modern humans and Neanderthals.
He'd heard of the crack before, but despite having been down this cave more than 20 times before, he had never noticed it, nor known of any other caver who had ventured down it.
The new fossils come from at least three individuals - two adults and a child - and the researchers believe more will be recovered as their excavations continue.
The child, estimated to be under five years old, is represented by bones from the head and body.
This suggests the species lived there alongside humans Organisation: University of Wisconsin-Madison What they did: Discovered new remains belonging to three Homo naledi - two adults and a child, including one they have named 'Neo', in a separate cave chamber Key findings: The new fossils were found in a chamber some distance from the Dinaledi Chamber - the cave where Homo naledi was originally found This suggests that the Homo naledi was storing its dead – a surprising behaviour that indicates the species was intelligent Analysis of a foot showed Homo naledi's feet share many features with a modern human foot, indicating it is well-adapted for standing and walking on two feet.
Pictured is a graphic summarising what is known about the species He said the structure of Homo naledi's hands meant it could have been a toolmaker.
Professor Paul Dirks, who led the study, said: 'The oldest dated fossils of Homo sapiens in Africa are around 200,000 years old.'And now we have a very primitive looking hominid that probably existed at the same time as them.'This is the first time one of these primitive hominids has been found in association with more modern humans in Africa.'Professor Dirks said the implications of the new dates are profound.