New research conducted on the ancient human relative, discovered by archeologists in 2013, has concluded that Homo Naledi could use tools. New analysis performed on the fossilized bones unearthed in a South African cave two years ago has now provided valuable insight on how the species lived in prehistoric times.
The new report has concluded that Homo Naledi’s feet allowed the species to walk flat on land. However, our close relative also spent considerable time in trees because its hands had strong curved fingers, which allowed for travel above ground, from branch to branch.
But the most astonishing feature lies in the bone structure of the hands, which researchers have concluded that it gave Homo Naledi the ability to grasp, twist, squeeze and generally use tools to its advantage. This is an evolutionary feature which is also key in the development of dexterity in the case of modern humans.
It is through the use of thumbs that we can use and manipulate objects in other ways rendered impossible for most other animals. Strikingly similar features were also discovered in the case of Homo Naledi.
Apart from this, our extinct close relatives also had complex wrist joints which allowed for a wide range of hand movements. Scientists have determined that such anatomical features could mean that members of the Homo Naledi family were capable of crafting tools themselves.
It is unknown, at this stage, however what type of tools they could have created and used. There were no tools discovered next to the bone remains uncovered inside the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, located near Johannesburg, in South Africa.
Scientists have not yet determined the period in which the Homo Naledi species existed. Some researchers speculate that Homo Naledi had lived nearly two million years ago. However, there are certain anatomical similarities with the Indonesian Homo Floresiensis species which would place the Homo Naledi much closer in the timeline, nearly 12,000 years ago.
If the latter hypothesis is correct, than this would also suggest some interesting migratory patterns, which would require further exploration and research. However, at this stage, it is still too early to categorically conclude where exactly the Homo Naledi fits in the grand scheme of evolutionary patterns.
Nonetheless, the new research has considerably expanded our previous understanding of evolutionary models and provides great insight into our own development as a species from a common prehistoric ancestry.
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