Scientists said a close relative of humans lived much longer than originally believed.
Homo naledi was assumed to have been extinct long before homo sapiens arose. Newly revealed evidence showed the near-relative was around only 300,000 years ago.
A huge cache of bones was found in South Africa in 2015.
Scientists originally thought the fossils were 2.5 million years old. Further research showed they were a 10th that old.
What we have announced now is this population of Homo naledi is only between about 2 to 300,000 years old,” said Lee Berger, project leader for Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University.
“No one thought there’s a small brain primitive hominid could extend down through time so far. Homo naledi was primitive in appearance, but genetically much closer to humans that chimpanzees or apes. Homo naledi is nothing like a chimpanzee or gorilla. This is a very advanced bipedal—it walks on two legs, a hominin,” Berger continued.
“It’s a member of our genus albeit, a primitive member of our genus. They would be very closely related to humans much more so than chimpanzees or gorillas other things like that,” he said.
Research seems to show that Homo naledi buried its dead, which is considered to show advanced mental development. This raises the question of whether Homo sapiens learned the practice from Homo naledi.
It is possible the species was driven to extinction by the more developedHomo sapiens.