A synopsis of our Homo naledi symposium

American Scientist kindly invited me to write up a synopsis of our session on the biology of Homo naledi at the AAPA meetings in April. The article is now online: “The Latest on Homo naledi. The article is in the printed July-August issue as well.

The H. naledi analysis was unique in recent paleoanthropology for proceeding on the basis of anatomy alone, without knowing the age of the fossil deposit. This approach was taken partly out of necessity, because of the lack of many of the usual hints regarding geological age. But also, we recognized that the placement of a species into the family tree of organisms, or its phylogenetic position, is one that depends on the pattern of branching in the tree and not the age of the branches. H. naledi’s anatomical mosaic makes the age determination particularly difficult—did it acquire derived traits early or preserve primitive traits late?

I wrote up a short summary of all the new research that was presented at the symposium, and it was great to include so many of the team in the article.