To date, roughly 1 550 numbered fossil elements were found and are believed to represent at least 15 individuals, making it the single largest fossil hominin find yet made in Africa. Picture: John Hawks
To date, roughly 1 550 numbered fossil elements were found and are believed to represent at least 15 individuals, making it the single largest fossil hominin find yet made in Africa. Picture: John Hawks

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has expressed his pride in the work of a South African-led team of scientists and cavers who discovered Homo Naledi, a new hominin revealed on Thursday morning.

“We would like to congratulate Wits University on the major new fossil discoveries at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in the West Rand, Gauteng which was unveiled today,” said Zuma during a media briefing at Tuynhuis in Cape Town.

“We are very excited and very proud that this happened on South African soil,” he said, “They continue to put our country on the global map through such remarkable and outstanding work.”

On Thursday, the species Homo Naledi (H. naledi) was revealed to the public after initially being discovered in 2013 in the Dinaledi Chamber at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

According to the team, led by the University of the Witwatersrand’s Professor Lee Berger, two factors stood out to scientists: H. naledi’s possessing of both physically primitive and human-like characteristics indicating it could use tools and also climb, as well as what appears to be H. naledi having intentionally deposited its dead in the remote chamber – the sort of behaviour previously thought to be limited to humans.

Furthermore, the expeditions and the discovery made represented the single largest fossil hominin find made on the African continent so far.

Zuma congratulated the team, specifically naming the lead researchers Berger and fellow professors Paul Dirks and John Hawks.

“This new remarkable discovery follows intensive research by the scientists under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence at the University of Witwatersrand,” said Zuma.

“Our country is truly the cradle of human kind!”.

ANA