Abstract | Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

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Homo naledi, a new species of the genus Homo from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

Abstract

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University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States; Texas A&M University, United States; Duke University, United States; University of Zurich, Switzerland; University of Arkansas, United States; University of Kent, United Kingdom; Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany; Mercyhurst University, United States; New York University, United States; New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, United States; Dartmouth College, United States; University of Colorado Denver, United States; Loughborough University, United Kingdom; Tulane University, United States; Lehman College, United States; American Museum of Natural History, United States; University of Cape Town, South Africa; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Spain; Modesto Junior College, United States; Louisiana State University, United States; Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; University of Missouri, United States; University of Kentucky College of Medicine, United States; Simon Fraser University, Canada; Université de Montréal, Canada; Australian National University, Australia; Biology Department, Universidad Autònoma de Madrid, Spain; Midwestern University, United States; Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom; University of Pisa, Italy; Chaffey College, United States; University of Johannesburg, South Africa; George Washington University, United States; University of Colorado School of Medicine, United States; Croatian Natural History Museum, Croatia; University of Iowa, United States; Lincoln Memorial University, United States; Smithsonian Institution, United States; Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, China

Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. This species is characterized by body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to australopiths. Cranial morphology of H. naledi is unique, but most similar to early Homo species including Homo erectus, Homo habilis or Homo rudolfensis. While primitive, the dentition is generally small and simple in occlusal morphology. H. naledi has humanlike manipulatory adaptations of the hand and wrist. It also exhibits a humanlike foot and lower limb. These humanlike aspects are contrasted in the postcrania with a more primitive or australopith-like trunk, shoulder, pelvis and proximal femur. Representing at least 15 individuals with most skeletal elements repeated multiple times, this is the largest assemblage of a single species of hominins yet discovered in Africa.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09560.001