Mysterious New Human Species Emerges from Heap of Fossils – Scientific American excerpt

Published September 11, 2015 by wallacedarwin

Why did SHE create a myth that left the impression that there was only one human species? O:-)

However old the Homo naledi bones turn out to be, they will dramatically impact how scientists interpret human evolution, Berger says.

If the remains are quite old, then certain physical and behavioral traits associated with laterHomo emerged surprisingly early, and possibly in species that did not give rise to H. sapiens. 

If the remains are intermediate in age, some of their more australopithecine-like traits might be the result of reversals, in which a more primitive trait re-evolves, possibly because it becomes adaptive again in some way.

If the remains are young, then scientists will have to come to terms with the fact that a small-brained human species with tool-wielding hands managed to persist alongside larger-brained human species—possibly including H. sapiens—for an amazingly long time.
In that case, says team member John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin, perhaps H. naledi was among the archaic human species
[*] that interbred with H. sapiens and thereby contributed DNA to the modern human gene pool,
[*] like Neandertals did. (The team plans to try to obtain DNA from the H. naledi bones, though the warm, damp conditions in the cave system are not ideal for preservation of ancient DNA.)

The mix-and-match anatomy of the H. naledi bones is not the only puzzling aspect of this discovery, however.
At other fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind, fossils are encased in sediment and animal bones are found mixed in with the human remains.



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