fossils

Legacy of the Leakeys

Generations of women have explored our world with the National Geographic Society, and three generations of women explorers from the Leakey family have brought the history of the world to our community. In 1978, Mary Leakey and her team left a ...

A Critical Piece of the Hominin Puzzle

By John Hawks This week, a small targeted excavation is underway at Rising Star, involving some of the original core team of excavators — Marina Elliott and Becca Peixotto, and cavers Pedro Boschoff, Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker, along with key ...

A New Season for Superglue in the Sea Monster Lab

After eight years of excavations, a collection of sea monster fossils from the far north are being cleaned and brought to light in the lab. Several months have passed since the last update, and a lot of progress has been ...

Scientists Return to Explore a Second Fossil Chamber

Paleoanthropologist and science blogger John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has just returned to South Africa with NG Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and others to continue work on the hominin discoveries of the Rising ...

Extinct “Devil Frog” Sported Spikes, Body Armor

The giant “devil frog” was even more terrifying than previously thought, a new study says. Recent fossil analysis shows that the predatory amphibian, Beelzebufo ampinga, was smaller than first described, but had spiky flanges protruding from its skull and plate-like ...

Call for Scientists to Join Rising Star Workshop 2014

Unearthing more than 1200 early hominin fossil elements in November 2013, the Rising Star Expedition produced more material than one scientist or traditional paleoanthropological team could process in several years. That inspired project leader Lee Berger and his collaborators come up with ...

Rising Star Photo Wins Australian Archaeology Award

By Elen Feuerriegel I submitted this photo to the Australian Archaeological Association photo competition in ‘Category B – Archaeological fieldwork or laboratory work in progress‘. While I was unable to attend the conference myself (I was busy cleaning fossils!), I was ...

Final Day of Excavations

After three weeks of deep-cave hominid fossil recovery, the Rising Star Expedition has wrapped on its final day of excavations. The caver/scientists known as “underground astronauts” will return Wednesday to complete the 3D scans of the entire fossil chamber, ...

The Journey Into Darkness

A member of Lee Berger’s exploration team who first located the hominid fossils in the Rising Star cave system and who now serves as indispensable guide and support for the scientists, Rick Hunter offers his reflections on standing sentry ...

Field Trip to Malapa

Paleoanthropologist and science blogger John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the experts on site at the Rising Star Expedition, analyzing fossils, monitoring activity from the Command Center, and helping tell the story from the senior scientists’ ...

Know Your Hominid Skulls

As scientists work to identify and catalog the now more than 800 hominid fossils recovered on the Rising Star Expedition, they pull from a body of knowledge accumulated over decades in their field. An intimate knowledge not only of broad principles ...

The View From a Caver/Scientist

By Elen Feuerriegel 20th November 2013 The day starts (officially) at 6am. I’m up a little earlier this morning. Crawl out of my sleeping bag and tent to the sight of Lee Berger bounding around. Lee is a Morning Person. ...

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Tent

After the field trip the day before, the excavation team was eager to get back into the cave. The early hominids seemed just as eager to get out. The first goal of the day was to finish excavating the recently ...

What We Know and Don’t Know So Far

By John Hawks Monday, Nov. 18 — It’s a rare quiet morning here at Rising Star as we give the underground team the morning to tour Sterkfontein Caves, just a kilometer away (read about their day off). You might think that ...

Inside the Cradle of Humankind

The Rising Star Cave system is a series of cracks, chambers, and tunnels through a hill of dolomitic limestone, just like all the other hills in the area. Walk to the top of the hill and within your field of ...