New findings reveal that our new found ancestor Homo naledi could move on land but also climb trees. On top of that he was a handy man.
First reports of the Homo naledi broke early last month. New discoveries have stunned the science community. Homo naledi is a new species of human relative.
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The new research reveals that the Homo naledi was skilled in tree climbing and walking. He also appears to have been able at the same time to perform precise manual manipulation.
The Homo naledi foot shares many features with a modern human foot, indicating that it is well-adapted for standing and walking on two feet. However, the authors note it differs in having more curved toe bones (proximal phalanges).
The Homo naledi hand shows a unique combination of anatomy that has not been found in any other human fossil before. The wrist bones and thumb show anatomical features that are shared with Neandertals and humans and suggest powerful grasping as well as the ability to use stone tools.
However, the finger bones are more curved than most early fossil human species, such as Lucy's species Australopithecus afarensis, suggesting that Homo naledi still used their hands for climbing in the trees. This mix of human-like features in combination with more primitive features demonstrates that the Homo naledi hand was both specialized for complex tool-use activities, but still used for climbing locomotion.
"The tool-using features of the H. naledi hand in combination with its small brain size has interesting implications for what cognitive requirements might be needed to make and use tools, and, depending on the age of these fossils, who might have made the stone tools that we find in South Africa," says Kivell.
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