A new human species

Untitled-3Berger et al., 2015 recently reported a new species called Homo naledi, found at the Dinaledi Chamber in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa. This species present a mosaic of several anatomical features from Australopithecus and Homo species. The fossil remains correspond to 15 individuals from the same species. The age of the fossils remain unclear. The researchers presented a detailed comparative analysis between H. naledi and other species. They affirm that the overall morphology of H. naledi is more close to humans than to australopiths. The cranium lacks primitive features like well developed sagittal and nuchal crests. In this sense, H. naledi cranial morphology is more similar to other extinct human species that lived between four million and two million years ago, namely H. erectus, H. habilis, and H. rudolfensis. Homo skull traits include frontal and parietal bossing, cranial bones relatively thin (like H. habilis), flexed occipital and transverse torus (like H. erectus), the supraorbital torus well developed and weakly arched (as H. erectus and H. habilis)  and gracile mandible; as well as their body mass and stature, are consistent with small bodied human populations, namely the lower limb, the foot and the ankle. However, Homo naledi fossils, presents some australopith-like characters as small endocranial volume (560-465 cc) and the morphology of the postcranial skeleton (trunk, shoulder, pelvis and proximal femur). Berger et al., suggest that the combination of different features presented in H. naledi is the result of a complex, and probably, polyphyletic process of different species that evolved separately in Africa.

Gizéh Rangel de Lázaro

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