In South Africa’s Rising Star Cave system, archaeologists have uncovered evidence that an ancient species of hominid that was initially identified in 2013 constructed fires in deep pits. Homo naeldi was the type of hominid that was discovered.
It is commonly believed that the capacity to create fire is one of the fundamental abilities that distinguishes humans from other animals. This ability enabled our ancestors to prepare food, maintain their body temperature, and ultimately become the most dominating species on the world.
It was only recently that evidence suggesting that Neanderthals were also proficient users of fire was discovered across Europe, but now it looks like we had knowledge of fire even before them. Researchers in South Africa who have been digging a vast system of caves say they have found evidence that a prehistoric species of hominid that existed between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago was also using fire as a tool.
The remains of Homo naledi were found for the first time in 2013 by Berger and his team hundreds of meters inside a claustrophobic network of corridors known as the Rising Star Cave system located close to Johannesburg in South Africa.
Subsequent excavations have now uncovered fossils belonging to over a dozen different individuals, including males, females, juveniles, and adults. These excavations have also uncovered indications of ceremonial burial practices, in which the remains of specific individuals seem to have been cleansed and set in position on purpose.
Then, in the earlier part of this year, while Berger was exploring the caves for the first time on his own, he reported seeing indications of soot on the sides of the cave walls.
In the same cave, at the same time, the other co-director of the expedition, Dr. Keneiloe Molopyane, discovered the charred remains of antelope bones that had been burned on a smaller hearth that was flanked by the charred remnants of a much larger hearth.
Additional exploration of the system led to the discovery of a number of additional caverns and corridors that contained burned animal bones and fragments of smoldering wood.
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