Video: First Day in Fossil Cave

Archaeologists in South Africa descend into the deepest part of a cave containing newly discovered early hominid fossils in one of the most technically challenging and hi-tech paleoanthropological expeditions yet.

From suiting-up to making prized 3D scans 30 meters underground, the team of “underground astronauts” begins their mission in earnest and finds it more intense than even they had expected.


Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.
  • Jeff Hertrick

    Andrew: Great stuff from South Africa! It’s interesting to follow an expedition like this as its happening.

  • John S. Mead

    Andrew – As a biology teacher in Texas who has spent time in the Cradle, it is a thrill to be able to follow what you’re sharing here. Your work is getting lots of attention among my Middle & High school Biology students! Kudos in a job well done — Please keep it coming!

  • W. Mason

    Great stuff, facinating and hypnotic…but how do you think all those bones got down there in the first place, given that the explorers have to squeeze their way down?

  • Jennifer Simon

    “See! Behold! Look! Lo!
    they cry in season, rapt, in love,
    chipping away with their pocketknives,
    pencils, rulers, fingernails”


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