Homo naledi

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’ ...

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 ...

The Skull Man Arrives

After a day off for a field trip to other Cradle of Humankind sites yesterday, this morning, the expedition is back on in full swing. “Batten hatches,” was the last item on the whiteboard at this morning’s briefing. Most ...

Video: Scientists Recover Ancient Hominid Skull From Cave

Your browser does not support iframes. “About half way through it became pretty clear that we weren’t going to leave until it was out. There was no way we were stopping.” Becca Peixotto was not messing around today. The ...

A “Day Off” Still Manages to Yield Another Hominid Skeleton

“I just want to say, ‘Oh my goodness.’” Lee Berger wrapped up an impromptu meeting tonight with an almost giddy attitude. A moment earlier he had been all business, asking the caver/scientists for their thoughts on how best to ...

Remarkably Well Preserved Hominid Skeleton Emerges

“We have a mandible. We’ve seen the skull. And there are more bones. Lots of them.” With his team of “underground astronauts” safely ascending out of a deep and narrow cave with hominid fossil in hand, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence ...

First Peek Into Cave System Holding New Hominid Fossils

By 6:00am, the sun is shining, everyone in camp is up and getting breakfast and gathering for the morning briefing from expedition leader Lee Berger. Today’s assignments were clear: set up more shower tents, get the gear ready, and ...

There Are Hominid Fossils Waiting to Be Discovered!

Rising Star Expedition: November 7, 2013 The tents are up. The generators are purring. The clothes have dried from the adventure of a gear rescue during a quick but powerful South African thunderstorm. We’re sitting quietly at last, in collapsible chairs, ...