Did Homo naledi co-exist with our species?

Homo naledi
This Homo naledi skull is part of a skeleton dubbed “Neo.” (Wits University Photo / John Hawks)

The paleontologists who discovered a previously unknown line of human ancestors in South Africa say that they’ve found more fossils — and that the species, known as Homo naledi, could have lived alongside our own species 250,000 years ago.

The newly disclosed finds from the Rising Star Cave system could reignite the debate over the tangled roots of humanity’s family tree.

Fifty-two scientists from 35 organizations around the world, including University of Washington anthropologist Elen Feuerriegel, were part of the team behind the Rising Star research

In one of the papers published today by the journal eLife, the scientists set the age of the first Homo nadeli fossils they found at between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago, based on radioisotope dating, electron spin resonance dating and an analysis of the flowstone overlying the fossils.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

One reply on “Did Homo naledi co-exist with our species?”

Homo sapiens arose about 1,000,000 BC, so yes, quit probable. Recent evidence shows early Neanderthal lineage broke from Homo sapiens more than 450,000 years ago (pre-neanderthal tooth and bone from spain), when H.s. Neanderthal pre-cursor was already differentiated from H.s. sapiens. Neanderthal should be considered a sub-species of H.s. as much later (circa 50,000 years ago), the lineages came together again and mated, with 90% of modern sapiens now having about 4% Neanderthal genes as well.

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