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Mysterious New Human Species Emerges from Heap of Fossils

 

scientificamerican.com – Kate Wong

The Sciences »

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In October 2013 scientists working in South Africa announced that they had discovered a trove of fossil human remains in the pitch-black depths of an underground cave system. They began a rapid recovery effort that yielded some 1,550 specimens of bones and teeth—just a fraction of the material at the site, yet already the largest assemblage of human fossils ever found in all of Africa. Now the team has published its eagerly anticipated analyses of the remains, and the conclusions are startling. The researchers suggest that the fossils represent a previously unknown species in our genus, Homo, one that had a peculiar mix of physical traits and engaged in surprisingly sophisticated behavior for its brain size. But the age of the fossils has yet to be determined, leaving other scientists unsure of what to make of them.

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