How a new species brought the field of paleoanthropology back to life.
About this Episode
Dr. Lee Berger takes us on an amazing 17 year treasure hunt that leads to the discovery of a new species.
Some of our favorite quotes
Believe in Discovery, and never stop exploring.
Get Back out there and Start exploring again without all the biases.
The most dangerous mindset you can have is Back Yard Syndrome.
There ARE things to discover.
Be ready to see the discovery when it comes your way.
Believe in Yourself.
This field taught itself that it's story was over.
There are things to be discovered right in front of you, and you must be constantly be training yourself for what lands in front of you.
Be prepared to see opportunities in front of you and take advantage of them.
Mentioned in this Episode
Ron Steitz - Naval Recruiting Officer
Richard Leiki - Harvard
Joe Kibia - student who worked with Lee.
Matthew Berger - 15 years old went into cave to discover homeo naledi.
Species X in Africa
Morphosource.org. Open source resource where you can download and print casts of skeletons
About Dr. Lee Berger
Professor Lee Berger has made what has been hailed as the most important archaeological discoveries in recent history—two new species of human ancestors.
In 2008—with the help of his curious nine-year-old son—Berger discovered two remarkably well-preserved, two-million-year-old fossils of an adult female and young male, which he named Australopithecus sediba. The fossils of this previously unknown species of ape-like creatures reveal what may be one of humankind’s oldest ancestors.
Then, in 2013, guided by a pair of local cavers, Berger discovered ancient fossils just outside Johannesburg, deep inside the Rising Star cave, through a passage so dangerously narrow that Berger had to recruit small cavers to access them. There, 30 meters underground, in the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage site, Berger’s team uncovered more than 1,550 fossil elements, representing an unprecedented 15 individuals in what they believe to be a burial site. He named the new species Homo naledi.
“We’ve found a most remarkable creature,” says Berger. This new species appears to have intentionally deposited the bodies of its dead in the remote chamber—a behavior previously thought to be limited to humans. This new discovery is the single largest fossil hominin find in Africa to date. It shakes up our understanding of the human family tree and has the potential to transform understanding of human evolution.
Berger, an Eagle Scout and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science in the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Learn more from Dr. Lee Berger.
An Erik Lindbergh original.
Lyn Lindbergh's award winning book.