South African paleoanthropologist and National Geographic explorer Lee Berger described soot-covered walls, charcoal fragments, bone marrow and burnt rocks as hearths in the Resurgent cave system, where nine years ago the team discovered the bones of a new member. a family of men; I was born a man.
Fire control is considered a crucial stone in human evolution, as it shines to navigate dark places, suitable for night work, for cooking food, and later on increased body mass. When exactly the breakthrough was made, however, one of the most important questions in all of paleoanthropology was contested.
“We’re probably looking at a culture of another species,” said Berger, who spoke at a scientific convention reporting findings not in a peer-reviewed journal, but in a press release and lectures at the Carnegie Academy of Sciences at Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday in the London Library. In an interview with The Washington Post, Berger, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the formal reports are being reviewed and added, “There are a series of major findings coming out over the next month.”
He pointed out that his team’s findings this summer raised a critical question when they announced the initial comment on the 1,500 fossil bones: How did this ancient species penetrate the cave system about 100 to 130 feet underground, a place that is diabolically harsh. touch and in his words, “horribly dangerous”?
Now, the research team believes that H. naledi uses small lights in chambers throughout the cave system to light its way. Berger had claimed part in a personal journey through the narrow passages of the cave, which required him to shed 55 pounds.
Moreover, the use of fire by a human relative with a brain slightly larger than a large goldfish disrupts the traditional story of our evolution. Over the years, experts have proposed an evolutionary “ladder” that always moved upward toward species with larger brains and greater intelligence, leaving less intelligent species to perish.
But he has built up evidence that the message process existed rather than thought, a view that is supported, if still, by the lesser genius of our age. A wise man This is enough for the fire.
Berger’s lectures, accompanied by photographs from the cave but not based on carbon dating and other traditional scientific methods, drew criticism, as some of his previous claims about H. naledi fossils have.
“There is a long history of claims about the use of fire in South African caves,” said Tim D. White, director of the Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, who has been a past critic of Berger. “Any claim of controlled fire being used should be received with more skepticism if it is contradicted by a press release.”
Recent reports of early human use of fire, even with scientific evidence, have proven controversial. In 2012, archaeologists using advanced technology reported “indisputable evidence in the form of burnt bone and plant ash remains that a fire occurred in Wonderwerk Cave” in South Africa about 1 million years ago. Critics have questioned that age estimate, and scholars have identified a period of at least 900,000 years after the complex nuclear technology is called cosmogenic.
White said that more rigorous studies should show that both the evidence of fire and the bones of H. naledi are to show Berger’s horse that they both came from the same time period. Other studies must demonstrate not only the presence of fire, but moderate use. A witness would need to establish that the soot material is believed to be actually soot and not colored by chemicals or other factors.
Berger acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges facing him and his colleagues would be the materials he found. So far, they have said that the bones of H. naledi date back to between 230,000 and 330,000 years ago, although Berger emphasized that those dates should not be considered as the species’ first or last appearance.
White appeared skeptical about the lack of stone tools found in the caves. Archaeologists said they expect to find thousands of stone tools at a site where nearby people used fire for light and cooking.
“I will tell you today that there are no stone tools that we found before the hearth,” Berger said in the interview. “That’s odd.” However, he told the audience at the Carnegie Science lecture, “Fires don’t start spontaneously 250 meters into a wet cave, and animals don’t just wander into fires and get burned.”
And he said that stone hardware is common outside the cave landscape. It is also pushed against the criticism that it does not make the argument of the ancient heart that the pain found.
“We found dozens of foci, not one,” Berger said when asked about the evidence in an interview. “It’s 100 percent. There’s no doubt about it. … Now we’re entering a time now where this goes from just the bones to a full understanding of the environment that they were living in.”
Berger previously ran into controversy in the initial announcement of the discovery of H. naledi., while the old relatives were deliberately using caves to place them. Although Berger repeated the argument in several places in the lecture, acknowledging that it “may not have been well received by most of the academy.”
Other researchers said that although much testing needs to be done, the latest findings on the Rising Star are serious.
“I think it’s terrifying. It seems very plausible,” said Richard W. Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University and author of the 2009 book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.”
“It’s definitely attractive because of the small and mostly mysterious nature of these people.”
Wrangham said that, when the discovery was announced to H. Naledi, he was discussing the dark caves where the bones were found with one of Berger’s colleagues and they said, “Surely this wants to have light.”
However, Wrangham said he was confused about one thing: “How did they pick up the smoke? Did he draw smoke from the cave over there?”
Wrangham said he was willing to take Berger at his word about the use of fire, based on early testimony. He said the strongest evidence for early flame control, however, comes from an archaeological site in Israel called Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, where experts say early humans were cooking fish with fire about 780,000 years ago.
In the diatribe, Berger also shared some vivid descriptions of the 50 H. naledi individuals the team found.
He described the hand of the fossilized bones as “bent and grasped in death”; they found a child’s skull sitting on a shelf on a rock; and the skeleton of another child wrapped in a nail in one of the rooms. The dramatic images required an equally dramatic journey through a crevice in the dolomite, which narrows to only seven inches and requires extreme contortion of the explorer’s body.
“You’ve kissed the earth,” said Keneiloe Molopyane, a 35-year-old researcher at the University of South Africa’s Center for the Exploration of the Human Deep Journey. The scouts, he continued, had to emerge on a dangerous ridge about 65 feet above the cave floor. It is pitch black inside, with “bats screeching on either side of you. If you fall, you’ll go to the cave.”
The reward, however, is the spirit of Molopyan, recalled to life from the first descent into the cave of the system: “O God. I am the first man to see these relics of I do not know how many thousands of years old, and now I touch them.”
Berger said about 150 scientists around the world are involved in the effort to excavate, date and study the remains and artifacts found in the rising star system.
Asked to speculate on possible interactions and conflicts between H. naledi and H. sapiens, Berger replied, “Everything you just asked, we will have answers within the next 36 months.”
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