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Could Homo Naledi Control Fire?

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Remnants of small fireplaces containing charred bits of wood and burned animal bones and sooty wall and ceiling smudges have been spotted in South Africa’s Rising Star cave complex, where the remains of Homo naledi were discovered by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and his colleagues in 2013, according to a Science News report. The small-brained H. naledi fossils have been dated from 335,000 to 236,000 years old. “Signs of fire use are everywhere in this cave system,” including a remote chamber that also held H. naledi fossils, Berger said. The age of the fires and animal bones has not yet been determined, but the remains of no other hominin species have been found to date in the caves, Berger explained. Critics caution that the fires could have been built by visitors to the cave system, while the animal bones could have been washed in during heavy rains. For more, go to "Homo naledi," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of the Decade.

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