Scientists have just published new research that will shake up our understanding of the progress of human evolution and even pose new questions about our identity. The team has called this new species of human relative "Homo naledi," and they say it appears to have buried its dead -- a behavior scientists previously thought was limited to humans. Standing at the entrance to the cave where the fossils were found, Lee Berger (lead author on the paper) said: "We have just encountered another species that perhaps thought about its own mortality, and went to great risk and effort to dispose of its dead in a deep, remote, chamber right behind us."
"It absolutely questions what makes us human. And I don't think we know anymore what does."
A selection of the fossilized remains. Image taken from the paper which can be read by clicking here
The first undisputed human burial dates to some 100,000 years ago, but because Berger's team hasn't yet been able to date naledi's fossils, they aren't clear how significant their theory is. So far they've unearthed more than 1,500 fossil remains in total -- the largest single hominin find yet revealed on the continent of Africa, the cradle of human evolution.
Clearly, humans have come a long way in terms of their evolution over a very short (geologically speaking) period of time. However, in recent decades our societies and environments have 'evolved' more quickly than we are able to 'evolve' in order to maintain a beneficial equilibrium. If we do not alter our behaviour in order to tip the balance back towards our favor, we are going to have some very serious issues to deal with in the very near future. If you are even remotely concerned with the current direction in which our societies are headed then you should make time to read our recent release: Homo sapiens: An Appraisal of Modern Humans.
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