This week it was announced that paleontologists working in South Africa discovered the largest and most complete set of hominin fossils to date.
Working in the Rising Star cave system, within a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside of Johannesburg, a team of scientists found more than 1500 bones and teeth comprising at least 15 individual skeletons of the same species - A NEW species of ancient humans. They have named it Homo naledi (naledi means star in the Sesotho language).
The bones are in the process of being dated, but the characteristics of these ancient humans appear to be a mash-up of Australopithecus (4-2 million years ago) and Homo (2.8 million years ago to present). They appear to have walked upright, been 4.5 - 5 feet tall, and had a powerful grip. But their skulls were tiny enough to fit in your hand. Even more mysteriously, scientists have no clue how the bodies came to be in the cave. Their best guess is that they were deliberately deposited there after death - a behavior more unique to modern humans.
Here’s some more geek from the week:
- Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish are actually colonies of cloned organisms. Mind. Blown.
- Up close and personal with Hummingbird tongues. [VIDEO]
- Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be eaten by vultures? Wonder no more thanks to this National Geographic video. [VIDEO]
- Static electricity may be the answer for better, more effective mosquito nets.
- Scientists estimate there are more than 3 trillion trees left on the planet, a 46% drop since the start of human civilization.
- Interactive website that helps illustrate distortions of the mercator map projection system. [INTERACTIVE]
- Second “Stonehenge” discovered less than two miles from the well known original rock cluster.
- This video from “How It’s Made” on rubber gloves is hypnotizing. [VIDEO]
- Bad news for anyone hoping to open a bar on the Moon: space whiskey may not be so great after all.
- In advance of the new Star Wars film, you can now get your very own Millennium Falcon drone.
- Drop dead gorgeous new photos of Pluto.
Keep on geeking!
@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist