In 2015 researchers caused a sensation when they unveiled more than 1,500 human fossilsScientific American representing some 15 individuals, male and female, young and old, discovered in South Africa. It was an almost unimaginable bonanza, one of the richest assemblages of human fossils ever found, recovered from a chamber deep inside an underground cave system near Johannesburg called Rising Star. From it, the team was able to deduce the bones belonged to a new species, Homo naledi, which had a curious mix of primitive traits, such as a tiny brain, and modern features, including long legs.

They determined it was a capable climber, a long-distance walker, a probable toolmaker. And they suggested this peculiar cousin of ours might have taken great pains to dispose of its dead in the pitch-dark, hard to reach recesses of Rising Star.

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