New Research about the Ancient Human Species Homo Naledi Creates Controversy

Homo Naledi Cave Art

A recent study has brought forth intriguing findings regarding Homo Naledi, an ancient human species. The study suggests that despite having brains significantly smaller than modern humans, Homo Naledi demonstrated behaviors such as burial practices and the creation of engravings within a cave system in southern Africa approximately 300,000 years ago. These findings challenge the notion that larger brain size is solely indicative of higher intelligence.

The study has sparked controversy within the scientific community. It has generated discussions and debates among experts who hold varying perspectives on the interpretation and implications of the research findings.

About Homo Naledi

  • Homo Naledi is a fascinating species of human that was discovered in 2013 within the Rising Star cave system, a significant UNESCO World Heritage Site located in South Africa.
    • The discovery yielded an impressive collection of remains, including those of at least 15 individuals spanning various age groups, such as adults, juveniles, and infants.
    • This find constitutes the largest assemblage of a single hominin species in Africa.
  • The unique aspect of Homo Naledi is that it exhibits a combination of both primitive and modern features.
    • It is important to note that Homo Naledi is not considered a direct ancestor of modern humans.
    • Instead, it represents a distinct branch in the human evolutionary tree, showcasing its own evolutionary trajectory.
  • These ancient relatives of ours were characterized by their short stature and relatively small brain size.
    • It is believed that they inhabited Southern Africa between approximately 335,000 and 241,000 years ago, although there is some possibility that they lived as early as 2 million years ago.
    • The discovery of Homo Naledi provides valuable insights into the diversity of hominin species that once coexisted alongside our own ancestors.

Key Highlights of the Study

Recent studies have put forth intriguing claims regarding the behavior of Homo Naledi, shedding new light on their cultural practices and abilities.

Burial Claims

  • One such claim challenges existing notions about advanced mortuary behavior by suggesting that Homo Naledi deliberately buried their dead.
  • This finding is significant because the act of burying the deceased is a unique behavior exhibited by humans, setting them apart from other animals.
  • It signifies social acts and a complex understanding of death, known as mortuary behavior.
  • Notably, this behavior was previously attributed to Neanderthals and modern humans, occurring more than 100,000 years after the estimated timeframe of Homo Naledi’s existence.

Rock Art Claims

  • Another fascinating claim revolves around the possibility that Homo Naledi engaged in the creation of rock art within the Rising Star Cave.
  • Traditionally, rock art has been associated with Homo sapiens and other ancestors with larger brain sizes.
  • However, the discovery of deeply impressed cross-hatchings, geometric shapes such as squares, triangles, crosses, and X’s within the cave challenges this perspective.
  • Additionally, a rock-like object found near a Homo Naledi body suggests the potential use of stone tools by this ancient species.

Use of Fire

  • Furthermore, evidence suggests that Homo Naledi had a strategic use of fire.
  • It is believed that they utilized fire for illumination during their mortuary and engraving activities within the cave.
  • This discovery highlights their resourcefulness and the deliberate application of fire for specific purposes.

These claims open up new possibilities for understanding the cognitive capabilities and cultural practices of Homo Naledi. However, it is important to note that these findings have generated discussions and debates within the scientific community, as further research is needed to corroborate and fully understand the implications of these discoveries.

The controversy around the Study

  • Currently, there isn’t strong evidence to support the idea that Homo Naledi intentionally dug pits or arranged their skeletal remains in a deliberate manner.
  • The way some skeletal elements are positioned could be the result of natural processes like trampling or cave collapse, rather than intentional burial.
  • Additionally, there is uncertainty regarding the dating of the engravings found in the cave. Without accurate dates obtained from associated residues, natural deposits, or archaeological layers, it is too early to confidently attribute the engravings to Homo Naledi.

These factors contribute to ongoing discussions and debates among scientists, highlighting the need for further research and evidence to better understand the cultural practices and behaviors of Homo Naledi.

Significance of the Study

  • It is important to approach the discoveries at Rising Star Cave with caution and subject them to thorough scientific examination.
  • While these findings have the potential to significantly impact our knowledge of early humans, it is crucial to meet the rigorous standards set by the scientific community.
  • The evidence presented for intentional burial, rock art, and the use of fire needs further investigation to meet these standards.
  • Conducting excavations to study the alleged burials, accurately dating the engravings, and conducting comprehensive research on the use of fire are essential steps to validate these claims and gain wider acceptance among scientists.

By subjecting these claims to rigorous scrutiny, we can ensure that our understanding of early humans is based on robust evidence and contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Homo Naledi – FAQs

Human Beings belong to which species?

Human beings belong to the species Homo sapiens.

Where does the Rising Star cave system is located?

The Rising Star cave system is located in the Malmani Dolomites, in Bloubank River valley, about 800 meters southwest of Swartkrans, part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa.
The cave system was discovered in 2013 by a team of researchers led by Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand. The team found more than 1,550 fossils representing at least 15 individuals of Homo naledi, a previously unknown species of hominin. The fossils were found in a deep chamber (30 m below ground surface), named the Dinaledi Chamber.


  • Shubham Mittal

    Shubham Mittal is a renowned current affairs writer and expert in government exam preparation, inspiring readers with insightful articles and guiding aspirants with his expertise.

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