Saturday, September 12, 2015

First a Bigger and Better Stonehenge, Now the Missing Link

It's been a big week for archaeology. Hometown shout-out to the women who recovered these fossils.

Getting into Dinaledi required a steep climb up a sharp limestone block called "the Dragon's Back" and then down a narrow crack only 7 inches (18 centimeters) wide. A global call for researchers who could fit through this chute resulted in six women chosen to serve as what the researchers called "underground astronauts."

"They risked their lives on a daily basis to recover these extraordinary fossils," study lead author Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told Live Science. 

There seems to be disagreement over whether they are to be classified as being in the genus Homo and whether the find represented a burial spot for the 15 members of this group. And they have yet to take DNA samples because of the work doing reconstruction.

The scientists recovered more than 1,550 bones and bone fragments, a small fraction of the fossils believed to remain in the chamber. These represent at least 15 different individuals, including infant, child, adult and elderly specimens. This is the single largest fossil hominin find made yet in Africa. (Hominins include the human lineage and its relatives dating from after the split from the chimpanzee lineage.)

It's all too good to pick and choose from. Fascinating stuff. So consider this a bookmark. 


  1. Absolutely fascinating! I'm so glad there are brave people --those women who crawled into that tiny space!--willing to do what it takes to further our knowledge. Wonderful!

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  3. Real life Indiana Jones's (according to my spell check, that's the plural of Jones).