July 20, 2024

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Neanderthal naledi drawing and burial

Neanderthal naledi drawing and burial

Scratching line patterns have been found in the hard-to-reach Rising Star Cave in South Africa. Evidence of the use of fire and burial has also been found, which, like the inscriptions, relate to the only known inhabitants of that cave: the unusual Homo naledi (about 300,000 to 200,000 years ago). This Naledi man was a contemporary of modern man Homo sapiens that arose about 300,000 years ago. The discovery of naledi caused quite a stir in 2015 due to its combination of relatively recent anatomical features with rudimentary features, such as its prominent face, crooked fingers that seem better suited to climbing trees, and especially its small brain size (600 cc, no larger than a gorilla, vs. 1,300 cc of the species Homo sapiens). Rising Star Cave researchers, led by Lee Berger (University of the Witwatersrand) on Monday described their findings in three publications in puresafe (1And 2And 3).

modern behaviour

Lee Berger and his team, including archaeologist John Hawkes (University of Wisconsin), see their findings as evidence that ‘modern behavior’ such as the use of fire and especially intentional burials and engravings are not necessarily associated with significant brain capacity, such as that of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. “Meaning creation is not limited to large-brained hominins,” they wrote. In archeology, petroglyphs and burials are strong indicators of symbolic thinking.

An inscription on a rock in Rising Star Cave, marked in white for illustration.


Photo by Lee Berger et al

The problem with the finds is that it is not yet certain if all of these acts were carried out by H. naledi, although it was the most obvious “culprit”. Dutch archaeologist Will Robrocks confirms when asked via e-mail that the inscriptions have not yet been dated and the use of fire is not adequately described either. Furthermore, according to Roprox, indications of Naledi’s burial are also “possible” but “not yet convincing”. There may always be more, says Robrocks.

And in recent decades there have been so many surprises in the field of human evolution, “that it is no longer unexpected if small-brained humans like Homo naledi also made carvings or buried their dead,” Robrocks writes. However, there must be strong evidence for this. What I see now is just circumstantial evidence. There may also have been Homo sapiens in the cave at a later time, although we haven’t found anything like that yet.

The oldest burials known to date are around 100,000 years old, by Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. An over 400,000-year-old “bone pit” (Sima de los Huesos) in Spain is believed to contain many bodies of early Neanderthals, but this idea is not generally accepted.

Immediately after the discovery of H. naledi bones in Rising Star Cave in 2015, it was suggested that these carcasses may have been buried there, mainly because it is unlikely that the skeletal remains could have ended up there by predators or runs. water.

Relatively young archaeologists

The cave can only be accessed through a narrow tunnel that can only be traversed in “superman mode”: with one arm extended along the body and the other extended forward. The width of the neck of the other bottle is less than 20 cm. So a large part of the research at the site has been done by relatively young archaeologists, and Underground astronauts Hannah Morris, Marina Elliott, Becca Peixotto, Elaine Fioregel and Alia Gurtov (all from the University of the Witwatersrand) are also involved in the current investigations. Lee Berger has the same He was on a diet for months before landing his own for the first time last year. Even for a tiny H. naledi—about 150 cm long—it must not have been an easy crossing, especially pulling off a carcass.

Similar intentional scratches now found in Naledi Cave, South Africa are also known from Homo sapiens, from Blombos Cave, South Africa, about 100,000 years old. There is also the mussel shell from Java, which A erect man Already scratched a kind of squiggly line half a million years ago, a discovery made by Will Robrocks himself and José Jordens of Leiden.

Use fire earlier

Humans’ use of fire is much older than Naledi Cave, which is probably 400,000 years old, although there are even older estimates, as early as 2 million years ago. Indications for the use of fire by naledi are not described in detail. In their concluding article, Lee Berger and his colleagues content themselves with referring to an online piece of news about a lecture given by Berger, which also states that the firewood found has not yet been properly investigated.

Berger and his team found at least two sites of disturbed soil in the cave containing the body of Homo naledi, which appears to have decomposed undisturbed in place, with skeletal material in the correct anatomical position, covered by a few centimeters of sediment. Indeed, they now suspect that their earlier discoveries of Naledi skeletal material in the cave may have come from other burials. But according to Robrocks, the analysis is not yet definitive due to the lack of a detailed “micromorphological” analysis of the sediment.

Geometric patterns and scratches believed to have been made by H. naledi were found on a pillar between two rooms in the cave. The stripes are between five and fifteen centimeters long. Remarkably, the surfaces appear to have been smeared with dye or sediment to make the characters stand out better. Almost fifty scratchers are like an interplay between hashtags: “#”. Similar signs have been found in the cave, but they have not yet been properly investigated.

Read also about H. naledi: We are the last survivors of the great human family (2017)

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