Homo naledi may have dug cave graves and carved marks into cave walls

Monday, June 5, 2023 - 13:08 in Paleontology & Archaeology

An extinct, small-brained hominid known as Homo naledi intentionally buried its dead in two underground cave chambers 160,000 years or more before the earliest evidence of deliberate interments by Homo sapiens or Neandertals, researchers say. But that conclusion has already generated skepticism and calls for more thorough investigations of the new South African finds. H. naledi, which lived in southern Africa between roughly 335,000 and 236,000 years ago, also engraved marks on the side of a corridor and entryway that connects the adjacent cave chambers, contends an international team led by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa (SN: 5/9/17). Many engravings consist of isolated lines or lines that form crosshatches, squares, triangles, crosses and X shapes. If correct, Berger and colleagues’ interpretation of their discoveries indicates that an ancient Homo species with an orange-sized brain — which possibly displayed humanlike features — engaged in mortuary and symbolic activities...

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