Scientists unearth new human ancestor

Scientists have discovered a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep in a cave system in South Africa that is a treasure trove of 15 partial skeletons.

The find is the largest single discovery of its type in Africa.

The new species has been named Homo naledi  although details of when this relation of modern humans lived is in question. Lee Berger of Wits University, the scientist who led the team, told the BBC that he believed they could be among the first of the Homo species and could have lived about three million years ago.

Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum said it was “a very important discovery”.

“What we are seeing is more and more species of creatures that suggests that nature was experimenting with how to evolve humans, thus giving rise to several different types of human-like creatures originating in parallel in different parts of Africa. Only one line eventually survived to give rise to us,” he told BBC News.

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