The Homo naledi Enigma: A Critical Reevaluation
New study challenges burial and rock art claims in Rising Star Cave, South Africa
In a groundbreaking critique published in the Journal of Human Evolution1, experts from various disciplines question the purported burial and rock art practices of Homo naledi. Recent research claims of deliberate burial in the Rising Star Cave system face doubt as scholars advocate for more rigorous scientific scrutiny.
Unveiling the Discrepancies
The controversial findings, suggesting Homo naledi's intentional burial practices, are contested by a group of esteemed scholars. Professor Michael Petraglia, Professor Andy Herries, María Martinón-Torres, and Diego Garate jointly authored a comprehensive peer-reviewed critique.
Scientific Rigor Under Scrutiny
The research team highlights the lack of compelling evidence supporting deliberate burials and challenges the interpretation of alleged engravings. Professor Martinón-Torres emphasizes the need for extensive documentation and analyses to rule out natural processes contributing to body accumulation.
Stone Tools or Geofacts?
Doubts are cast on the authenticity of stone tools, with Professor Petraglia suggesting the possibility of geofacts. The team calls for caution in assuming human-made engravings, emphasizing the necessity of detailed analyses to distinguish natural weathering or animal-induced marks.
Beyond the Findings
The commentary also delves into the broader scientific landscape, addressing challenges posed by new publication models and stressing the importance of responsible social communication in disseminating archaeological discoveries.
In this critical reevaluation, the Homo naledi narrative undergoes rigorous scrutiny, urging the scientific community to exercise caution in drawing conclusions from the current evidence.
Martinón-Torres, M., Garate, D., Herries, A. I. R., & Petraglia, M. D. (2023). No scientific evidence that Homo naledi buried their dead and produced rock art. Journal of Human Evolution, 103464, 103464. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2023.103464