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‘Homo naledi is not contrary to biblical scriptures’

Paul Verryn says it is written in the scripture that nothing is made that doesn’t have God’s influence in it.

FILE: Homo naledi: Long legs suggest H. naledi was built for walking, while ape-like shoulders suggest it was probably also a good climber. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Methodist church leader Paul Verryn says the discovery of Homo naledi is nothing contrary to biblical scriptures or what religious people believe.

Scientists revealed a significant fossil discovery, which had been kept a secret for years, at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind.

But this has been met with mixed reaction among religious groups and individuals, who say they will not be referred to as descendants of baboons.

Verryn says it is written in the scripture that nothing is made that doesn't have God's influence in it.

"The essence of what in written in scripture is that humanity and the whole of creation is designed and brought into being by God and that we have a very unique dignity."

Founding president of the Kara Heritage Institute Mathole Motshekga has denied Homo naledi is his ancestor.

Former Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is the latest person to react on social media, saying no one will dig old monkey bones to back up a theory that he was once a baboon.

Researchers who worked on the special project have hailed Homo naledi as a historic discovery which will help better understand who we are and how we evolved, also questioning what it truly means to be human.

WATCH: Homo naledi revealed to the world

MIXED REACTION

On Friday a leading UK scientist praised the team involved in the discovery of Homo naledi for its transparency regarding their findings.

The so-called Naked Scientist, Chris Smith, said the team had been open and honest allowing its work to be scrutinised.

"The first thing they've done is to publish the results in a journal which is open access, this means anyone in the world can gain access to the paper and to read it for themselves and begin to make their mind up."

But not all the reaction to this groundbreaking find had been positive.

The New York Times quoted an expert in the field of human evolution who questions the classifying of this new species in the Homo class, the same designation humans fall under.

The age of the bones is also still unclear and Smith said scientists have years of work ahead of them.

He added that the most important step for the team was to try to extract DNA from the fossils.

"Because they're in such pristine conditions they may too surrender their DNA secrets. So that's going to be the other really key thing to look into.

"Once you've got a DNA message from these individuals that will really begin to shed some light on where they fit into things because you can't argue with the DNA."