Skip to content

My article giving an overview of our symposium on Homo naledi

An article written for American Scientist gives the current state of our research into the biology of this species.

1 min read

Citation: Hawks, J. (2016). The latest on Homo naledi: a recent addition to the human family tree doesn't fit in clearly yet. American Scientist, 104(4), 198-201.

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.

Homo nalediRising Star cave systemResearch by John Hawks
John Hawks

John Hawks Twitter

I'm a paleoanthropologist exploring the world of ancient humans and our fossil relatives.


Related Posts

Members Public

Finding ancient fire use in the Rising Star cave system

The study of the underground landscape enters a new phase with evidence of charcoal and burned animal bone in deep chambers.

A piece of charcoal upon a brown surface with tiny rodent bones visible
Members Public

Research highlight: The frontal sinuses of fossil hominins

A look inside the skulls of hominins reveals the extensive variation in the form of the internal structures known as the frontal sinuses.

Crania of Petralona and LES1 showing the extent of their frontal sinuses
Members Public

Panel: Who or what is Homo naledi?

Lee Berger, Agustin Fuentes, and I had a provocative conversation sharing our different perspectives on work related to the Rising Star cave system.

John Hawks with bookshelves in the background