Humans came out of Africa, and it is in the South and the East of that continent that the earliest human fossils are found. Recently archaeologists decided to investigate Rising Star Cave. The cave had been explored already, but recently at the difficult far end of the cave a tunnel was found; and this has proved a profitable discovery.
The cave is at the beginning spacious and easy of access, but it comes to a tunnel known as superman's crawl, which is but ten inches high. This is only a short passage, and it opens soon into the main chamber, a vast empty space that ends in a steep jagged incline known as the Dragon's Back. There follows a passage but eight inches wide which culminates in a steep drop through a narrow passage into the Dinaledi chamber, it was there that the fossils of early humans were discovered, fifteen in all.
The species is definitely hominid.The feet are those of an anatomically modern human and they are attached to long legs well suited for walking in a bipedal way. But the hands are curved rather like those of an ape, and they were suited to climbing trees. It appears that the environment to which they were adapted was a plain with occasional patches of tree cover.
The head was small, containing a brain the size of an orange, only about five hundred ccs. But while this is small for a human, only the size of a gorilla's, the behaviour of this kind of human seems to be surprisingly advanced, as I will show further down. Naledi humans stood about five feet tall and were gracile, slim and probably lightly muscled, designed for speed rather than strength. This meant that they would have had to rely on observation of enemies, cunning and evasion rather than brute force, needs that foster the development of intelligent and co-operative behaviour.
Scientists are convinced that we are dealing here with a species of the genus Homo, to which we belong, rather than Pongo, the ape genus. The first question is whether this species is a new one or a variety of a known one. The earliest known species is homo habilis, but there are ten others known, including our own, which as far as we know is the only surviving species in the genus Homo, the hominids. The dating has not been decided yet, but scientists are talking two million years, which makes this an early form of human. But scientists are convinced that the species should be called Homo naledi.