Is Homo naledi Going to Challenge Our Presuppositions on Human Uniqueness?

  • Rubén HerceEmail author
Part of the Issues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology book series (ESSSAT, volume 4)


In 2013 the Dinaledi Chamber in South Africa was discovered. Within this chamber, one of the largest collections from a single hominin species has been found. The remains, similar to human-like populations with small bodies, led to an announcement that a new species had been found. In 2015 an international team, led by Lee Berger, formally described Homo naledi. However, the fossils have not been dated yet and, as a result, a question arises as to whether the bones may represent a population at the dawn of humanity or a population that may have evolved in near isolation. Aside from this stimulating problem there are some reasons to think that the remains may have been deliberately placed in the cave. Berger speculates that these individuals were capable of ritual behaviour and that the placing of dead bodies was a ritualistic behaviour, a sign of symbolic thought. In this paper I discuss the data and explore if H. naledi’s fossils might challenge our presuppositions on human uniqueness.


Action strategy Complex behaviour Consciousness Dinaledi chamber Homo genus Homo naledi Human origins Human uniqueness Rising Star cave system Ritual behaviour 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NavarraNavarraSpain

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