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More Homo naledi information surfaces

The new research papers illustrate how human-like Homo naledi's feet were.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Less than a month after scientists revealed the discovery of Homo naledi, two new research papers are being published in the Scientific Journal Nature Communication.

These explore the hands and feet of the newest human relative to be unearthed from the depths of a cave at the cradle of human kind.

What made the Homo naledi discovery remarkable is a suggestion that the species disposed of its dead in a so-called burial chamber an assertion that has attracted criticism and controversy.

The new research papers illustrate how human-like Homo naledi's feet were, which is significant given its small and primitive brain.

Wits University's Bernhard Zipfel said, "The meaning, potentially, is quite profound even though we don't state it in the current papers but it suggests the foot was part of the anatomy that evolved to become modern."

He says the hands are also fairly evolved and the hominin would likely have been capable of using primitive tools but its curved fingers also suggest tree climbing.

Some have argued that Homo naledi is not a new species, while a process to date hundreds of bones found inside the Chamber of Stars is still underway.

Take a look at EWN's special feature on Homo naledi to understand why this discovery is important.