Religion Science

What Does it Mean that We Have Discovered a New Human Sub-Species?

It means that nerdy people like me get really excited about it – that’s what!

And it’s further proof of evolution and another very large spike in the coffin of the already dead argument of evangelical creationism.

This new discovery comes from a South African cave. This species has been named Homo Naledi. This discovery does not yet mean that Homo Naledi actually is a new and ancient unique species because the research upon it has yet to be fully completed – but initial work appears to point that way making this a fabulous find.

This also isn’t the first time it has appeared that we found a new species of man and it likely won’t be the last – you might recall back in 2004 when it was announced that a small, three foot tall hominin given the name Homo Floresiensis Homo Nalediwas discovered in Indonesia. He was dubbed the “Hobbit”. There is still controversy over the nature of “hobbits” as they have been argued to be a modern man with dwarfism, or even Down syndrome, but other parts of its skeletal remains indicate that modern human pathology cannot explain all of its features, such as differences in facial, wrist and foot bones. Also the “Hobbit” remains were deemed to possibly be only about 18 thousand years old and as such presented us with the possibility of having found another species that lived coincident – at the same time – as modern men. That debate continues.

Homo Naledi, (Naledi means “star” ) on the other hand was discovered in 2013 in the remote parts of a cave, part of the Rising Star Cave system near Johannesburg, South Africa. This discovery came from the distant reaches of a cave with very small crawl spaces.

Given the name the “Dinaledi chamber” which means “Chamber of the Stars” in the local dialect, it seems to me a miracle that cavers were so daring as to put themselves at risk to squeeze along very, very narrow tunnels to explore what was in front of them.

Fortunately, they did so, and this discovery was made. Subsequent investigation and excavation by paleoanthropologists has led to this recent announcement. What is truly unique about this find is that it contained over 1500 bones from at least 15 skeletons. If the remains are truly very ancient (they are yet to be dated – but show some similarities to skeletal adaptions found in two-million year old remains) this may prove to be the most complete set of ancient Homo remains ever found.

Ongoing discoveries such as this closely match what has been found in nature with most other species, mainly that from an early ancestor, life often takes many paths to the present. Some of those traveling along different paths become extinct along the way as they fight to survive, overcome disease, compete for food and water, and attempt to overcome adversity.

Like it or not, evolution goes on around us constantly. Classic examples are dogs. Dogs evolved from wolves, but dogs are not wolves. They are genetically different from wolves, albeit not a lot – genetically only about 1%, but by comparison our genetic difference from Bonobos (a docile African ape similar to a chimp) is shown as only about 1.2%. It is likely that the genetic difference between us and Homo Naledi would not be much greater – and might be closer.

Do the other caves of South Africa hide more evidence of early man? I suspect they do – much more – will be found. Such discoveries expand our knowledge of who we are, and why our particular branch of the Homo tree (Sapiens) became the dominant one.

What are your thoughts about the meaning of this discovery?


Originally posted 2015-09-17 20:08:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Leave a Reply