The fossil remains of an early hominid child have been discovered in a cave in South Africa by a team of international and South African researchers.
The team announced the discovery of a partial skull and teeth of a Homo Naledi child, named Letimela – meaning ‘The lost one’ in the local language of Setswana – who died almost 250,000 years ago when it was approximately four to six years old.
The remains were found in a remote part of the cave that suggests the body had been placed there on purpose, in what could be a kind of grave.
“If this skull was moved from some other location to that point, that truly is a remarkable level of interaction with the dead,” said Professor Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Homo Naledi is a species of archaic human found in the Rising Star Cave, Cradle of Humankind, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
Homo Naledi dates to the Middle Pleistocene era 335,000–236,000 years ago.
The initial discovery of Homo Naledi, first publicly announced in 2015, comprises 1,550 specimens, representing 737 different elements, and at least 15 different individuals.
The discovery is described in two papers in the PaleoAnthropology journal.