The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)


Session 39. Biology and context of Homo naledi from the Rising Star cave system, South Africa. Invited Podium Symposium. Chair: John Hawks Co-organizers: John Hawks, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lee R. Berger, Evolution Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand

April 16, 2016 , Imperial Ballroom A Add to calendar

Hominin remains were discovered in October, 2013 within the Rising Star cave system, inside the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa, within a remote chamber of the cave system, named the Dinaledi Chamber, presently accessible only through a narrow vertical shaft. Lee Berger organized excavations with a skilled team of archaeologists and support of local cavers, which have to date uncovered 1550 hominin skeletal specimens. In May and June, 2014, the University of the Witwatersrand held a workshop to analyze these remains, bringing together 35 early career scientists grouped with mentors to prepare initial description and taxonomic assessment of the remains. The hominin remains from Rising Star represent a minimum of 15 individuals of a previously undiscovered hominin species, which has been named Homo naledi. At the time of submission of this symposium, the age of the Dinaledi fossil deposit is  unknown. This symposium reports results from the Rising Star workshop and subsequent work undertaken by the team. The papers include detailed description of the skeletal biology of Homo naledi focusing on the functional and phylogenetic implications of each region of the skeleton: cranium, dentition, upper limb, hand, trunk, pelvis, lower limb and foot. Study of the sample has illuminated aspects of population biology, adaptation, and growth and development, and the geological and taphonomic context of the Dinaledi Chamber. This is a comprehensive initial description of the biology of a new hominin species, and all papers present new and (at the time of submission) unpublished material by early career first authors. Two periods of discussion in the symposium will allow additional coverage of the design of the excavation and workshop, and will provide flexibility to describe findings on new skeletal material and geological context of the Rising Star site that may emerge after the abstract submission deadline.

8:00 Add to calendar Geological and taphonomic context of excavations within the Rising Star cave system. Marina C. Elliott, Paul HGM. Dirks, Lee R. Berger, Eric M. Roberts, Jan D. Kramers, John Hawks, Patrick S. Randolph-Quinney, Charles M. Musiba, Steven E. Churchill, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Peter Schmid, Lucinda R. Backwell, Georgy A. Belyanin, Pedro Boshoff, K Lindsday Hunter, Elen M. Feuerriegel, Alia Gurtov, James du. G Harrison, Rick Hunter, Ashley Kruger, Hannah Morris, Becca Peixotto.
8:15 Add to calendar Skull diversity within the Homo lineage and the relative position of Homo naledi. Lauren Schroeder, Jill E. Scott, Heather M. Garvin, Myra F. Laird, Mana Dembo, Davorka Radovčić, Lee R. Berger, Darryl J. de Ruiter, Rebecca R. Ackermann.
8:30 Add to calendar Metric and nonmetric features of the Homo naledi dentition. Lucas K. Delezene, Juliet K. Brophy, Matthew M. Skinner, Alia N. Gurtov, John Hawks, Joel D. Irish, Lee R. Berger, Darryl J. de Ruiter.
8:45 Add to calendar Enamel-dentine junction morphology and enamel thickness of the Dinaledi dental collection. Matthew M. Skinner, Annabelle L. Lockey, Philipp Gunz, John Hawks, Lucas K. Delezene.
9:00 Add to calendar The shoulder and upper limb of Homo naledi. Elen M. Feuerriegel, David J. Green, Christopher S. Walker, Peter Schmid, John Hawks, Lee R. Berger, Steven E. Churchill.
9:15 Add to calendar Functional interpretation of the Homo naledi hand. Tracy L. Kivell, Andrew S. Deane, Matthew W. Tocheri, Caley M. Orr, Peter Schmid, John Hawks, Lee R. Berger, Steven E. Churchill.
9:30 Add to calendar Primitive pelvic features in a new species of Homo. Caroline VanSickle, Zachary D. Cofran, Daniel Garcia-Martinez, Scott A. Williams, Steven E. Churchill, Lee R. Berger, John Hawks.
9:45 Add to calendar The axial skeleton and scaling of the trunk in Homo naledi. Scott A. Williams, Daniel García-Martínez, Marc R. Meyer, Shahed Nalla, Peter Schmid, John Hawks, Steven E. Churchill, Lee R. Berger, Markus Bastir.
10:00 Break
10:15 Add to calendar Thigh and leg remains of Homo naledi. Damiano Marchi, Christopher S. Walker, Pianpian Wei, Trenton W. Holliday, Steven E. Churchill, Lee R. Berger, Jeremy M. DeSilva.
10:30 Add to calendar Relative length of the immature Homo naledi tibia U.W. 101-1070: evidence for elongation of the leg. Christopher S. Walker, Jeremy M. DeSilva, Trenton W. Holliday, Damiano Marchi, Heather M. Garvin, Zachary Cofran, John Hawks, Lee R. Berger, Steven E. Churchill.
10:45 Add to calendar Homo naledi strides again: preliminary reconstructions of an extinct hominin’s gait. Zach Throckmorton, William E.H. Harcourt-Smith, Kimberly Congdon, Bernhard Zipfel, Jeremy DeSilva, Caroline VanSickle, Scott Williams, Marc Meyer, Thomas Cody Prang, Christopher Walker, Damiano Marchi, Daniel Garcia-Martinez, Steven Churchill, John Hawks, Lee Berger.
11:00 Add to calendar Body size and sexual dimorphism in H. naledi. Heather M. Garvin, Marina C. Elliott, Lucas K. Delezene, John D. Hawks, Steven E. Churchill, Lee R. Berger, Trenton W. Holliday.
11:15 Add to calendar Assessment of life stages of the individuals at Rising Star . Debra R. Bolter, Zachary Cofran, Christopher S. Walker, Matthew M. Skinner, Barry Bogin, Noel Cameron, Lee R. Berger, John Hawks.
11:30 Discussion: Darryl de Ruiter and Steve Churchill