A Voice From the Cave: Lee Berger on the NG Weekend Radio Show

Over the course of the three-week-long Rising Star Expedition in November, Lee Berger posted individual updates by the minute on Twitter, and we had blog posts and videos almost daily, revealing chapters of the story right as they happened.

Now that the field season has wrapped there’s been time to look back and see the story as a whole, from Pedro Boshoff’s original commission to seek out new fossil sites in the caves of the Cradle of Humankind, to the phenomenal final tally of more than a thousand hominid fossil elements discovered and identified.

On the latest episode of the National Geographic Weekend radio show hosted by Boyd Matson, Lee finally speaks at length, telling the story of the expedition from start to finish.

Part One Listen here.

Part Two Listen here.


Read All Rising Star Expedition Posts

Hear More Episodes of NG Weekend 

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.
  • Paul Nasca

    Absolutely incredible! It’s great to hear about the RSE from the project leader, Lee Berger. Kudos to the whole RSE team and National Geographic for inviting us along in the discovery. Here’s to open science! Thanks, Andrew, for keeping your readers up-to-date on the project. Keep up the good work, everyone!!

  • Jose L. Vasquez

    Dear Mr. Berger perhaps you and your team have already figured it out, but if not, I have an interesting theory as to the why and how is it that the fossil remains are the way they were found there at the Rising Star location, as I think that they are the victims of a flash flood, mud slide of volcanic ash and is the reason why the remains are complete, the reason for the void is from a large tree and other debris that has long disappeared, the reason for the narrow entrance is from a branch that used to be there.
    you could be seating on a large group of fossils and not just of hominids but other animals unlucky to have been cut up in the event, if from a mud slide you will need to explore a larger area for more fossils and you are going to need an army of diggers for that, so good luck to you and team.
    you can find me on twitter @LeonardoV59

  • John Cooper

    I thought the fossils were discovered by independent cavers who then contacted the archaeologists involved. Berger states the opposite. He quite clearly, twice, lays claim to this discovery, personally, him, no one else. What is the real story?

  • Andrew Howley

    Hi @JohnCooper, I think I can clear up the confusion. The cavers who first made the discovery (Steve Tucker, Rick Hunter, and Pedro Boshoff) were employed by Lee Berger as an exploratory team to investigate the caves in this vicinity, a project that had been underway for a few months.

    Some early reports (including my own) began the story with the discovery, and in not telling of the assembly of team, inadvertently gave the impression that Berger’s involvement began afterwards. It was however a team effort throughout.

  • Marlise

    It’s so awsome to hear the story!!!!!

  • Joanne Shorthouse

    awesome Elen…what an adventure, you go girl!!!!
    regards, Jo and Barry Shorthouse

  • Joanne Shorthouse

    Was looking at one of my fav mags when who should pop up
    Elen!! Awesome Elen what an adventure, you go girl!!!!
    regards Jo and Barry Shorthouse

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