Wits professors explain challenge of securing Homo Naledi’s age

Wits University’s Paul Dirks says the dating process felt relatively long because more than one method was used to ensure accuracy.

Scientist piece together the skeleton of Neo, discovered in the Rising Star cave.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CRADLE OF HUMANKIND - Wits University professors have explained that the process of securing the age of Homo Naledi was a challenging one.

They say the remains are more than 280,000 years old.

This new information was released earlier on Tuesday, along with news of the discovery of a new specimen nicknamed Neo.

The incomplete skeleton of Neo was found in the Lesedi chamber more than 100 meters from the Dinaledi chamber, where Homo Naledi was discovered almost two years ago.

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Wits University’s Paul Dirks says the dating process felt relatively long because more than one method was used to ensure accuracy.

“It’s not easy to get a date out of fossils for starters but, in this particular case there were many challenges... challenges in the geology and chemistry. We had a challenge to make sure that we get it right, right from the beginning.”

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He says even though the range given is rather wide - it is accurate.

Scientists have described this discovery as a surprise as it means that Homo Naledi existed at the same time as our immediate ancestors.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)