Rising Star Expedition

The first fossils of Homo naledi, discovered in 2013 and described as a new species of hominin in 2015, have just been dated to coming from only 236,000 to 335,000 years ago—close to the origins of our own species. (Read: Did This Mysterious Ape-Human Once Live Alongside Our Ancestors?) What does it mean for prevailing...

After the excitement of Homo naledi’s discovery and extraction from deep in a narrow cave in South Africa, and the implication that these non-humans may have intentionally carried their dead deep into the earth, we are left with the bones themselves, what they tell us about these creatures, and what new questions they inspire. These...

After the excitement of Homo naledi’s discovery and extraction from deep in a narrow cave in South Africa, and the implication that these non-humans may have intentionally carried their dead deep into the earth, we are left with the bones themselves, what they tell us about these creatures, and what new questions they inspire. These...

After the excitement of Homo naledi’s discovery and extraction from deep in a narrow cave in South Africa, and the implication that these non-humans may have intentionally carried their dead deep into the earth, we are left with the bones themselves, what they tell us about these creatures, and what new questions they inspire. These...

The announcement of Homo naledi last week was just the latest phase of a scientific adventure that’s been going on for two years in and around a tiny cave in South Africa. It started in November, 2013, with the three-week long expedition to recover what National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team at first thought...

Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi. An account of Homo naledi’s discovery and analysis is the cover story of the October...

By Becca Peixotto Every day at Rising Star is a busy one, but in our free time we’ve been lucky to make some local friends who follow the expedition and this blog.  Thanks for helping us feel welcome in South Africa! Today marked the last day of excavation for this round of Rising Star. In...

  By Becca Peixotto Today, our fourth day underground, we had a special guest in the command center. Young Stefan from a school here in South Africa got to be a paleoanthropologist for a day and by watching the video monitors and speaking to us via the phone-style voice comms system guided Marina and me...

By Becca Peixotto At the beginning of the week, Marina Elliott, Lee Berger, Peter Schmidt, and I sat in Lee’s office at Wits University studying photos from last November of the area of high density of fossils we call the “Puzzle Box.” We set priorities for this week’s renewed excavation, imagined contingencies, reviewed equipment, and,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...