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 lasting impression on the world of paleoanthropology when they discovered the “Laetoli Footprints,” trace…

Read More

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 Star caves. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHawks. By John Hawks It has been a long three…

Read More

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 armor down its back. (Also see “7 Demonic Creatures: Thorny Devil, Satanic Gecko, More.”) Initially estimated…

Read More

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 a different way of handling this find. Believing that there are likely to…

Read More

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 notified recently that I had been one of the winning entries. In this photo…

Read More

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, walls and all. They will be aided by the caving support team as they remove the…

Read More

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 in the caverns, and on the long journey from daylight into the caves, through winding passages, a belly-crawl…

Read More

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’ perspective. For real-time updates follow him on Twitter @JohnHawks. By John Hawks Saturday we went over…

Read More

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 but of specific specimens around the world is their constant reference as each piece…

Read More

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media