fossils

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…

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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 personnel Ashley Kruger, Justin Mukanku, Wayne Crichton, Peter Schmid and Lee Berger. Cavers descended…

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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 made on the project of putting the marine reptiles of Svalbard back together. We are…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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. Marina has been up since the predawn. Typically, she is the one who organises and…

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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 revealed mandible. For twenty minutes, the top-side folks were gathered around the monitors watching as…

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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 going into another cave wouldn’t be a break, but you get into Sterkfontein by…

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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 vision are the entrances to hundreds of known caves. This is not the only one…

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