Paleontologists in South Africa said on Monday they had found the oldest known site in the world, containing the remains of a tiny relative of humans once thought to be incapable of complex activities.
Led by renowned palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger, researchers said they found several examples of Homo star – a tall, Stone Age hominid – buried about 30 meters (100 feet) underground in a cave inside the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Johannesburg.
“These are the oldest prayers recorded in hominin literature, earlier than the evidence of A wise man intervening at least 100,000 years ago,” the scientists wrote in a list of findings that are subject to peer review and published papers. eLife.
These findings challenge this understanding of human evolution, because it is often said that the development of a large brain allows for complex, “meaningful” activities such as burying the dead.
The oldest burials ever excavated, found in the Middle East and Africa, contained the remains of A wise man – and they were about 100,000 years old…
Those found in South Africa by Berger, whose previous announcements have been controversial, and his colleagues, date back to around 200,000 BC.
In short, they are also a Homo staran ancient creature at the intersection of apes and modern humans, which had a brain the size of an orange and was about 1.5 meters tall.
With webbed fingers and toes, hands and feet used as tools for locomotion, the organisms Berger discovered had already advanced the idea that our evolutionary path was straight.
Homo star named after the “Rising Star” cave where the first skeletons were found in 2013.
The circular area at the center of the new course was also found there during excavations that began in 2018.
The holes, which investigators say evidence suggests were deliberately dug and then placed in to cover the bodies, contain at least five people.
“These findings show that mortuary practices were not unique to H. sapiens or other hominins with large brain sizes,” the researchers said.
The burial place is not the only symbol Homo star he was capable of a complex emotional and cognitive behavior, he added.
Geometrical patterns, including a “hashtag figure”, were also found on the surface of a nearby cave monument.
“This does not mean that people are not unique in creating symbolic things, but that they may not have developed such behaviors,” Berger told AFP in an interview.
Words like these might ruffle some feathers in the field of archeology, where the 57-year-old girl previously accused her of not being scientifically rigorous and rushed to think.
Many were disappointed when, in 2015, Berger, who had previously acquired the aid, was helped National Geographicproduced the first idea that Homo star it was capable of more than the size of its supposed head
“That was too much for scientists to take at that time. We think that everything is connected to this big brain,” he said.
“We’re about to tell the world it’s not true.”
Although further analysis is needed, the findings “change our understanding of human evolution”, the researchers wrote.
“Burials, meaning-making, even ‘art’ can have a more complex, dynamic, non-human history than we first thought,” he said. Augustine Fuentes, a professor of anthropology at Princeton University, who co-authored the study.
Carol Ward, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri who was not involved in the study, said “these findings, if confirmed, would be very important”.
“I’m looking forward to studying how the remains prevent other explanations than deliberate burials, and to see the results when tested by colleagues,” he told AFP.
Ward added that the paper acknowledged that it could not rule out that the inscriptions on the walls could have been made by later hominins.
© Agence France-Presse