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SCIENTISTS HAVE DISCOVERED A NEW MEMBER OF THE HUMAN FAMILY TREE

January 14, 2018

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
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Previous: Who Is Responsible for Children's Spiritual Training?

Introduction

In the foregoing clip from the September 11, 2015, anchor Natalie Morales declares, "Scientists have discovered a new member of the human family tree, and it may re-write history." She was referring to Homo naledi, the name given to a large specimen of bones and teeth in a cave system in Africa in 2013 (Jeff Miller). This discovery may "re-write history," but is it a "new member of the human family tree," as Morales declares it may be?

Who Was Homo Naledi?

Homo naledi reconstruction
Homo Naledi Reconstruction (Photo by Jamie Shreeve, National Geographic)
The bones of Homo naledi were discovered by a pair of recreational cavers in a cave called Rising Star, some 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. Believing it to be a new species, paleontologist Lee Berger and his team of scientists called it Homo naledi (pronounced na-LED-ee), after the cave where the bones had been found. In the local Sotho language, naledi means “star.” There were some 1,550 specimens in all, representing at least 15 individuals, according to Jamie Shreeve in National Geographic.

Was Naledi a Member of the Human Family Tree?

First, take a look again at the reconstruction of Naledi above. Artist Gurche spent some 700 hours reconstructing the head from bone scans, using bear fur for hair. But, as Jeff Miller of Apolegitics Press points out:
Mere bones do not tell you what a person’s facial expressions, eye color, skin color, facial wrinkles, hair color, or lips would have looked like, even if a complete skull had been found.
The the artist "reconstructed" Naledi from the bones shown in the clip from the Today segment.
The age of Homo naledi has not been determined. John Noble Wilford writes in the NY Times:
Researchers analyzing the H. naledi fossils have not yet nailed down their age, which is difficult to measure because of the muddled chamber sediments and the absence of other fauna remains nearby. Some of its primitive anatomy, like a brain no larger than an average orange, Dr. Berger said, indicated that the species evolved near or at the root of the Homo genus, meaning it must be in excess of 2.5 million to 2.8 million years old. Geologists think the cave is no older than three million years.
As Miller writes, "Creationists would argue that those dates correlate to the post-Flood period a few thousand years ago." But, why is dating important? As Traci Watson writes in USA Today:
What's more, the bodies may have been deliberately placed in the cave, suggesting that long-ago human relatives were engaged in ritual disposals of their dead.
(Continued on page 2).

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