Mercyhurst University anthropologist Heather Garvin, Ph.D., was a member of the international scientific team recently credited with identifying a new species of human ancestor, Homo naledi. Garvin will share her experience with the Rising Star Expedition in South Africa and explain her pivotal role in the discovery during a free, public presentation – “Who was Homo naledi?” – on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall, which is situated inside the Hirt Academic Center on Mercyhurst’s Erie campus.
The new species sheds light on the origins and diversity of our genus, Garvin said, adding that H. naledi looks much like one of our more primitive ancestors but with some surprisingly humanlike features, including feet nearly indistinguishable from those of modern humans. H. naledi also appears to have intentionally deposited bodies of its dead in a remote cave chamber, a ritualized behavior previously thought limited to humans. The discovery is the cover story – “Almost Human: A new ancestor shakes up our family tree” – of the October issue of National Geographic.
Photo from National Geographic.