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More work lies ahead following discovery of Homo naledi

Researchers say they now have to come up with new dating methods to work on their discovery.

FILE. The fossils were taken to Wits University for examination. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - A senior collections curator at Wits University says much work lies ahead following the discovery of Homo naledi, including dating the fossils.

On Tuesday, the nature communication journal published two new research papers on the hands and feet of the newest human relative to be unearthed.

The papers illustrate how human-like feet and hands were contrasted against a small primitive brain.

Wits' Berhard Zipfel says this opens new debate about how humans evolved, possibly first walking, then using tools and gradually growing more intelligent.

"We're now left to know how old these creatures are and it was fine looking at them without knowing the age because we've been quite objective about the process that dating is a difficult task. What we're committed to is, we want multiple dating methods that match up before we announce any date."

WATCH: The Homo naledi species which was unveiled to the world in Maropeng on Thursday, has opened a door to a new debate on what makes humans unique.

Scientists behind the Homo naledi discovery believe the species disposed of its dead, but this has been met with some criticism in the science community.

The Homo Naledi discovery has been met with some criticism but has led scientists to explore whether a primitive human relative may have contemplated mortality, using burial chambers to dispose of its dead.

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