ESR

Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
SEARCH FILTERS
Time filter
Source Type

News Article | August 1, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

Based in Seoul with 65 years of history, SK Group is one of the largest South Korean conglomerates with a specialty in oil & gas, telecommunications, semiconductor, petrochemicals and e-commerce businesses. As a responsible corporate citizen, SK is a national and global leader by taking active initiative in energy and chemicals, driving technological innovations in information, telecommunication, and semiconductor businesses, and enriching lives in the marketing and service sector including logistics and retail. Through its operations in over 30 countries, SK Group owns a sizable portfolio of warehouses, manufacturing plants, research centers and prime office properties. Co-founded by Warburg Pincus and the senior management Stuart Gibson, Jeffrey Shen and Charles de Portes and backed by some of the world's preeminent investors including APG, CPPIB, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, PGGM and Ping An, ESR is one of the largest warehousing developers, owners and managers in Asia.  As of June 2017, ESR manages 8.4 million sqm of projects with US$9.0 billion of assets under management across China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. ESR's customers consist of international market leaders across a broad range of industry sectors including e-commerce, retail, manufacturing and third-party logistics companies.  Some of its representative tenants include JD.com, 1haodian.com, Askul, Carrefour, DB Schenker, Daimler, and H&M.  ESR also owns the trust manager of ESR-REIT, Singapore's first independent industrial real estate investment trust with a diversified portfolio of 49 properties and a gross asset value of over S$1.3 billion (US$0.96 billion). HoJeong Lee, VP of SK commented, "We firmly believe that ESR is well positioned as the largest pure-play Asia-focused logistics real estate platform with a best-in-class management team to become the "Prologis" of Asia. ESR's platform is highly complementary to our broader portfolio of businesses and this investment is also consistent with SK's growth strategy and vision to become a 'Global Investment Holding Company' through active investment in market leading companies across SK's supply chain. We believe the investment in ESR will not only bring long-term sustainable return for SK but it will also provide strong support for our warehousing needs in Asia." The modern warehousing industry in Asia has witnessed robust development driven by the rapid growth of e-commerce and an increasing reliance on third-party logistics providers.  According to JLL Research, e-commerce sales in China will represent over 50% of global e-commerce sales by 2018 and China's online retail transaction value is expected to double from 2016 to 2029, exceeding US$1.5 trillion. E-commerce sales in Japan (the fourth-biggest market) are set on a similar growth trajectory and estimated to double in size to JPY 25.1 trillion (US$226.1 billion) in 2020, at an annual CAGR of 12%. In South Korea, the modern warehousing industry has been one of the fastest growing sectors between 2000 to 2015 growing threefold to reach KRW 2.3 trillion (US$2 billion) in 2015. Jeffrey Shen and Stuart Gibson, Co-CEOs of ESR, commented, "We are very excited to welcome SK as a shareholder and a business partner.  Through its investment, we will seek to leverage SK's strong presence in South Korea to further enhance our market leading position in the country.  Additionally, we look forward to working closely with SK to help fulfill their growing warehousing needs across the region with the goal of creating long-term value for SK and its shareholders." As the integrated holding company of SK Group, the mission of SK Holdings is to generate synergies among its various affiliates by enhancing management efficiencies and speedy decision making. Since its formation, SK holdings has continued to improve the strength of SK Group through active investment in new growth areas, which constitute value-centered portfolios including bio/pharmaceuticals, semiconductor materials and modules, LNG, IT services, and ICT convergence. ESR is a leading "pure-play" pan-Asia logistics real estate platform focusing on developing and managing institutional-quality logistics facilities that cater to third-party logistics providers, e-commerce companies, bricks-and-mortar retailers, cold-chain logistics providers and industrial companies. Co-founded by Warburg Pincus and the senior management Stuart Gibson, Jeffrey Shen and Charles de Portes and backed by some of the world's preeminent investors including APG, CPPIB, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, PGGM and Ping An, the ESR platform represents one of the largest industrial asset manager in the Asia-Pacific region managing over 8.4 million sqm of projects in operation and under development across China, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, with funds management offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.


Receive press releases from New Yorker Electronics: By Email New Yorker Electronics to Distribute Entire Line of 2017 Vishay Super 12 Featured Products Northvale, NJ, May 27, 2017 --( This year’s Super 12 Featured Products include: - SQJQ480E TrenchFET® Gen IV MOSFET - 80V, 3mΩ N-Channel MOSFET in PowerPAK® 8x8L Package - T59 Series vPolyTanTM Polymer Capacitors - Low ESR, High Energy Polymer Capacitors in MAP Package - VCNL4035X01 Optical Sensor - Integrated Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor for Gesture Applications - WSLF2512 - 6W Power Metal Strip® Resistor with Low Resistance and Low TCR - VTVS5V0ASMF to VTVS63GSMF - 400W Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS) Diodes in SMF Package - IHLE-5A Series High Current Inductors with E-Field Shield - Provide 20dB Electric Field Reduction at 1cm for Automotive Applications - SiC462 Synchronous microBUCK® Regulator - 4.5V to 60V Buck Regulator Capable of Delivering Up to 75W Output Power - MKP1847H AC Filtering Film Capacitor - Robust Design for High Humidity Environments - 10A to 30A FRED Pt® Ultrafast Rectifiers in SMPD Package - Offer Higher Power Density - IHXL Series Very High Current Inductors - Largest Composite Inductor Available; Up to 250A Continuous Current Rating - SiRA20DP TrenchFET® Gen IV MOSFET - 25V, 0.58mΩ N-Channel MOSFET Provides Lowest Maximum RDS(on) - DCRF (Direct Water-Cooled Power Wirewound Resistor) - Handles Almost 10x the Power of Naturally-Cooled Resistors in the Same Size New Yorker Electronics is a franchise distributor for Vishay and carries its full line of full line of discrete semiconductors (diodes, MOSFETs and infrared optoelectronics) and passive electronic components (resistors, inductors and capacitors). About New Yorker Electronics New Yorker Electronics is a certified franchised distributor of electronic components, well known for its full product lines, large inventories and competitive pricing since 1948. New Yorker Electronics is an AS9120 and ISO 9001:2015 certified source of capacitors, resistors, semi-conductors, connectors, filters, inductors and more, and operates entirely at heightened military and aerospace performance levels. It also functions in strict accordance with AS5553 and AS6496 standards - verifying that it has implemented industry standards into everyday practices to thwart the proliferation of counterfeit parts. It is a member of ECIA (Electronics Component Industry Association) and of ERAI (Electronic Resellers Association International). Northvale, NJ, May 27, 2017 --( PR.com )-- New Yorker Electronics has announced it will be distributing the entire line of 2017 Super 12 Featured Products from Vishay. Each year, Vishay showcases a cross-section of the industry-leader’s broad portfolio in semiconductors and passive components. The Vishay Super 12 recognizes a dozen key semiconductor and passive components featuring new and improved technologies that can significantly improve the performance of end products and systems.This year’s Super 12 Featured Products include:- SQJQ480E TrenchFET® Gen IV MOSFET - 80V, 3mΩ N-Channel MOSFET in PowerPAK® 8x8L Package- T59 Series vPolyTanTM Polymer Capacitors - Low ESR, High Energy Polymer Capacitors in MAP Package- VCNL4035X01 Optical Sensor - Integrated Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor for Gesture Applications- WSLF2512 - 6W Power Metal Strip® Resistor with Low Resistance and Low TCR- VTVS5V0ASMF to VTVS63GSMF - 400W Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS) Diodes in SMF Package- IHLE-5A Series High Current Inductors with E-Field Shield - Provide 20dB Electric Field Reduction at 1cm for Automotive Applications- SiC462 Synchronous microBUCK® Regulator - 4.5V to 60V Buck Regulator Capable of Delivering Up to 75W Output Power- MKP1847H AC Filtering Film Capacitor - Robust Design for High Humidity Environments- 10A to 30A FRED Pt® Ultrafast Rectifiers in SMPD Package - Offer Higher Power Density- IHXL Series Very High Current Inductors - Largest Composite Inductor Available; Up to 250A Continuous Current Rating- SiRA20DP TrenchFET® Gen IV MOSFET - 25V, 0.58mΩ N-Channel MOSFET Provides Lowest Maximum RDS(on)- DCRF (Direct Water-Cooled Power Wirewound Resistor) - Handles Almost 10x the Power of Naturally-Cooled Resistors in the Same SizeNew Yorker Electronics is a franchise distributor for Vishay and carries its full line of full line of discrete semiconductors (diodes, MOSFETs and infrared optoelectronics) and passive electronic components (resistors, inductors and capacitors).About New Yorker ElectronicsNew Yorker Electronics is a certified franchised distributor of electronic components, well known for its full product lines, large inventories and competitive pricing since 1948. New Yorker Electronics is an AS9120 and ISO 9001:2015 certified source of capacitors, resistors, semi-conductors, connectors, filters, inductors and more, and operates entirely at heightened military and aerospace performance levels. It also functions in strict accordance with AS5553 and AS6496 standards - verifying that it has implemented industry standards into everyday practices to thwart the proliferation of counterfeit parts. It is a member of ECIA (Electronics Component Industry Association) and of ERAI (Electronic Resellers Association International). Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from New Yorker Electronics


Scientists today announced that the Rising Star Cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. The age of the original Homo naledi remains from the Dinaledi Chamber has been revealed to be startlingly young in age. Homo naledi, which was first announced in September 2015, was alive sometime between 335 and 236 thousand years ago. This places this population of primitive small-brained hominins at a time and place that it is likely they lived alongside Homo sapiens. This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that another species of hominin survived alongside the first humans in Africa. The research, published today in three papers in the journal eLife, presents the long-awaited age of the naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber and announces the new discovery of a second chamber in the Rising Star cave system, containing additional specimens of Homo naledi. These include a child and a partial skeleton of an adult male with a remarkably well-preserved skull. The new discovery and research was done by a large team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), James Cook University, Australia, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States, and more than 30 additional international institutions have today announced two major discoveries related to the fossil hominin species Homo naledi. The team was led by Professor Lee Berger of The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a National Geographic Explorer in Residence. The discovery of the second chamber with abundant Homo naledi fossils includes one of the most complete skeletons of a hominin ever discovered, as well as the remains of at least one child and another adult. The discovery of a second chamber has led the team to argue that there is more support for the controversial hypothesis that Homo naledi deliberately disposed of its dead in these remote, hard to reach caverns. 1The dating of Homo naledi is the conclusion of the multi-authored paper entitled: The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa, led by Professor Paul Dirks of James Cook University and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). The naledi date is surprisingly recent. The fossil remains have primitive features that are shared with some of the earliest known fossil members of our genus, such as Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis, species that lived nearly two million years ago. On the other hand, however, it also shares some features with modern humans. After the description of the new species in 2015, experts had predicted that the fossils should be around the age of these other primitive species. Instead, the fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber are barely more than one-tenth that age. "The dating of naledi was extremely challenging," noted Dirks, who worked with 19 other scientists from laboratories and institutions around the world, including labs in South Africa and Australia, to establish the age of the fossils. "Eventually, six independent dating methods allowed us to constrain the age of this population of Homo naledi to a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene." The age for this population of hominins shows that Homo naledi may have survived for as long as two million years alongside other species of hominins in Africa. At such a young age, in a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene, it was previously thought that only Homo sapiens (modern humans) existed in Africa. More critically, it is at precisely this time that we see the rise of what has been called "modern human behaviour" in southern Africa - behaviour attributed, until now, to the rise of modern humans and thought to represent the origins of complex modern human activities such as burial of the dead, self-adornment and complex tools. The team used a combination of optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with Uranium-Thorium dating and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish how the sediments relate to the geological timescale in the Dinaledi Chamber. Direct dating of the teeth of Homo naledi, using Uranium series dating (U-series) and electron spin resonance dating (ESR), provided the final age range. "We used double blinds wherever possible," says Professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg, a uranium dating specialist. Dr. Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, a geologist from James Cook University who also worked on the Dinaledi Chamber, noted that it was crucial to figure out how the sediments within the Dinaledi Chamber are layered, in order to build a framework for understanding all of the dates obtained. "Of course we were surprised at the young age, but as we realised that all the geological formations in the chamber were young, the U-series and ESR results were perhaps less of a surprise in the end," added Professor Eric Roberts, from James Cook University and Wits, who is one of the few geologists to have ever entered the Dinaledi Chamber, due to the tight 18cm-wide constraints of the entrance chute. Dr. Marina Elliott, Exploration Scientist at Wits and one of the original "underground astronauts" on the 2013 Rising Star Expedition, says she had always felt that the naledi fossils were 'young'. "I've excavated hundreds of the bones of Homo naledi, and from the first one I touched, I realised that there was something different about the preservation, that they appeared hardly fossilised." In an accompanying paper, led by Berger, entitled Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa, the team discuss the importance of finding such a primitive species at such a time and place. They noted that the discovery will have a significant impact on our interpretation of archaeological assemblages and understanding which species made them. "We can no longer assume that we know which species made which tools, or even assume that it was modern humans that were the innovators of some of these critical technological and behavioural breakthroughs in the archaeological record of Africa," says Berger. "If there is one other species out there that shared the world with 'modern humans' in Africa, it is very likely there are others. We just need to find them." John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wits University, an author on all three papers, says: "I think some scientists assumed they knew how human evolution happened, but these new fossil discoveries, plus what we know from genetics, tell us that the southern half of Africa was home to a diversity that we've never seen anywhere else". "Recently, the fossil hominin record has been full of surprises, and the age of Homo naledi is not going to be the last surprise that comes out of these caves I suspect," adds Berger. In a third paper published at the same time in eLife, entitled New fossil remains of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, South Africa, the team announces the discovery of a second chamber, within the Rising Star cave system, which contains more remains of Homo naledi. "The chamber, which we have named the Lesedi Chamber, is more than a hundred meters from the Dinaledi Chamber. It is almost as difficult to access, and also contains spectacular fossils of naledi, including a partial skeleton with a wonderfully complete skull," says Hawks, lead author on the paper describing the new discovery. Fossil remains were first recognised in the chamber by Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker in 2013, as fieldwork was underway in the Dinaledi Chamber. The name "Lesedi" means "light" in the Setswana language. Excavations in the Lesedi Chamber began later, and would take nearly three years. "To access the Lesedi Chamber is only slightly easier than the Dinaledi Chamber," says Elliott, who was lead excavator of the fossils from the new locality. "After passing through a squeeze of about 25cm, you have to descend along vertical shafts before reaching the chamber. While slightly easier to get to, the Lesedi Chamber is, if anything, more difficult to work in due to the tight spaces involved." Hawks points out that while the Lesedi Chamber is "easier" to get into than the Dinaledi Chamber, the term is relative. "I have never been inside either of the chambers, and never will be. In fact, I watched Lee Berger being stuck for almost an hour, trying to get out of the narrow underground squeeze of the Lesedi Chamber." Berger eventually had to be extracted using ropes tied to his wrists. The presence of a second chamber, distant from the first, containing multiple individuals of Homo naledi and almost as difficult to reach as the Dinaledi Chamber, gives an idea of the extraordinary effort it took for Homo naledi to reach these hard-to-get-to places, says Hilbert-Wolf. "This likely adds weight to the hypothesis that Homo naledi was using dark, remote places to cache its dead," says Hawks. "What are the odds of a second, almost identical occurrence happening by chance?" So far, the scientists have uncovered more than 130 hominin specimens from the Lesedi Chamber. The bones belong to at least three individuals, but Elliot believes that there are more fossils yet to be discovered. Among the individuals are the skeletal remains of two adults and at least one child. The child is represented by bones of the head and body and would likely have been under five years of age. Of the two adults, one is represented by only a jaw and leg elements, but the other is represented by a partial skeleton, including a mostly complete skull. The team describes the skull of the skeleton as "spectacularly complete". "We finally get a look at the face of Homo naledi," says Peter Schmid of Wits and the University of Zurich, who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly reconstructing the fragile bones to complete the reconstruction. The skeleton was nicknamed "Neo" by the team, chosen for the Sesotho word meaning "a gift". "The skeleton of Neo is one the most complete ever discovered, and technically even more complete than the famous Lucy fossil, given the preservation of the skull and mandible," says Berger. The specimens from the Lesedi Chamber are nearly identical in every way to those from the Dinaledi Chamber, a remarkable finding in and of itself. "There is no doubt that they belong to the same species," says Hawks. The Lesedi Chamber fossils have not been dated yet, as dating would require destruction of some of the hominin material. "Once described, we will look at the way forward for establishing the age of these particular fossils," says Dirks. Elliot adds, however, that as the preservation and condition of the finds are practically identical to that of the naledi specimens from the Dinaledi Chamber the team hypothesizes that their age will fall roughly within the same time period. Berger believes that with thousands of fossils likely remaining in both the Lesedi and Dinaledi Chambers, there are decades of research potential. "We are going to treat ongoing extraction of material from both of these chambers with extreme care and thoughtfulness and with the full knowledge that we need to conserve material for future generations of scientists, and future technological innovations," he says. 52 scientists from 35 departments and Institutions were involved in the research. Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib said: "The search for human origins on the continent of Africa began at Wits and it is wonderful to see this legacy continue with such important discoveries" "The National Geographic Society has a long history of investing in bold people and transformative ideas," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, a funder of the expeditions that recovered the fossils and established their age. "The continued discoveries from Lee Berger and his colleagues showcase why it is critical to support the study of our human origins and other pressing scientific questions." The original fossils of these new discoveries, as well as those from the original Rising Star Expedition will be put on public display at the Maropeng, the Official Visitors Centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site from May 25th. This exhibit of the largest display of original fossil hominin material in history forms part of an exhibition called "Almost Human". The exhibition will be housed in 'The Gallery'. This state-of-the-art exhibition space was built as part of the Gauteng Infrastructure Upgrade Project. This is the second completed construction, the first being the upgrade to the Hominin House facilities at Maropeng. Maropeng is getting ready to receive thousands of visitors wanting to the see the exhibition and the new fossils. In 2015, when Homo naledi was first put on display, some 3 500 visitors per day made their way to Maropeng. "It was an extraordinary thing to experience," says Michael Worsnip, Managing Director of Maropeng. "It was something like a pilgrimage - a wonderful celebration of our heritage as a country, a continent and a planet."


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Johannesburg - Scientists today announced that the Rising Star Cave system has revealed yet more important discoveries, only a year and a half after it was announced that the richest fossil hominin site in Africa had been discovered, and that it contained a new hominin species named Homo naledi by the scientists who described it. The age of the original Homo naledi remains from the Dinaledi Chamber has been revealed to be startlingly young in age. Homo naledi, which was first announced in September 2015, was alive sometime between 335 and 236 thousand years ago. This places this population of primitive small-brained hominins at a time and place that it is likely they lived alongside Homo sapiens. This is the first time that it has been demonstrated that another species of hominin survived alongside the first humans in Africa. The research, published today in three papers in the journal eLife, presents the long-awaited age of the naledi fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber and announces the new discovery of a second chamber in the Rising Star cave system, containing additional specimens of Homo naledi. These include a child and a partial skeleton of an adult male with a remarkably well-preserved skull. The new discovery and research was done by a large team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), James Cook University, Australia, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States, and more than 30 additional international institutions have today announced two major discoveries related to the fossil hominin species Homo naledi. The team was led by Professor Lee Berger of The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a National Geographic Explorer in Residence. The discovery of the second chamber with abundant Homo naledi fossils includes one of the most complete skeletons of a hominin ever discovered, as well as the remains of at least one child and another adult. The discovery of a second chamber has led the team to argue that there is more support for the controversial hypothesis that Homo naledi deliberately disposed of its dead in these remote, hard to reach caverns. 1The dating of Homo naledi is the conclusion of the multi-authored paper entitled: The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa, led by Professor Paul Dirks of James Cook University and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). The naledi date is surprisingly recent. The fossil remains have primitive features that are shared with some of the earliest known fossil members of our genus, such as Homo rudolfensis and Homo habilis, species that lived nearly two million years ago. On the other hand, however, it also shares some features with modern humans. After the description of the new species in 2015, experts had predicted that the fossils should be around the age of these other primitive species. Instead, the fossils from the Dinaledi Chamber are barely more than one-tenth that age. "The dating of naledi was extremely challenging," noted Dirks, who worked with 19 other scientists from laboratories and institutions around the world, including labs in South Africa and Australia, to establish the age of the fossils. "Eventually, six independent dating methods allowed us to constrain the age of this population of Homo naledi to a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene." The age for this population of hominins shows that Homo naledi may have survived for as long as two million years alongside other species of hominins in Africa. At such a young age, in a period known as the late Middle Pleistocene, it was previously thought that only Homo sapiens (modern humans) existed in Africa. More critically, it is at precisely this time that we see the rise of what has been called "modern human behaviour" in southern Africa - behaviour attributed, until now, to the rise of modern humans and thought to represent the origins of complex modern human activities such as burial of the dead, self-adornment and complex tools. The team used a combination of optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with Uranium-Thorium dating and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish how the sediments relate to the geological timescale in the Dinaledi Chamber. Direct dating of the teeth of Homo naledi, using Uranium series dating (U-series) and electron spin resonance dating (ESR), provided the final age range. "We used double blinds wherever possible," says Professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg, a uranium dating specialist. Dr. Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, a geologist from James Cook University who also worked on the Dinaledi Chamber, noted that it was crucial to figure out how the sediments within the Dinaledi Chamber are layered, in order to build a framework for understanding all of the dates obtained. "Of course we were surprised at the young age, but as we realised that all the geological formations in the chamber were young, the U-series and ESR results were perhaps less of a surprise in the end," added Professor Eric Roberts, from James Cook University and Wits, who is one of the few geologists to have ever entered the Dinaledi Chamber, due to the tight 18cm-wide constraints of the entrance chute. Dr. Marina Elliott, Exploration Scientist at Wits and one of the original "underground astronauts" on the 2013 Rising Star Expedition, says she had always felt that the naledi fossils were 'young'. "I've excavated hundreds of the bones of Homo naledi, and from the first one I touched, I realised that there was something different about the preservation, that they appeared hardly fossilised." In an accompanying paper, led by Berger, entitled Homo naledi and Pleistocene hominin evolution in subequatorial Africa, the team discuss the importance of finding such a primitive species at such a time and place. They noted that the discovery will have a significant impact on our interpretation of archaeological assemblages and understanding which species made them. "We can no longer assume that we know which species made which tools, or even assume that it was modern humans that were the innovators of some of these critical technological and behavioural breakthroughs in the archaeological record of Africa," says Berger. "If there is one other species out there that shared the world with 'modern humans' in Africa, it is very likely there are others. We just need to find them." John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wits University, an author on all three papers, says: "I think some scientists assumed they knew how human evolution happened, but these new fossil discoveries, plus what we know from genetics, tell us that the southern half of Africa was home to a diversity that we've never seen anywhere else". "Recently, the fossil hominin record has been full of surprises, and the age of Homo naledi is not going to be the last surprise that comes out of these caves I suspect," adds Berger. In a third paper published at the same time in eLife, entitled New fossil remains of Homo naledi from the Lesedi Chamber, South Africa, the team announces the discovery of a second chamber, within the Rising Star cave system, which contains more remains of Homo naledi. "The chamber, which we have named the Lesedi Chamber, is more than a hundred meters from the Dinaledi Chamber. It is almost as difficult to access, and also contains spectacular fossils of naledi, including a partial skeleton with a wonderfully complete skull," says Hawks, lead author on the paper describing the new discovery. Fossil remains were first recognised in the chamber by Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker in 2013, as fieldwork was underway in the Dinaledi Chamber. The name "Lesedi" means "light" in the Setswana language. Excavations in the Lesedi Chamber began later, and would take nearly three years. "To access the Lesedi Chamber is only slightly easier than the Dinaledi Chamber," says Elliott, who was lead excavator of the fossils from the new locality. "After passing through a squeeze of about 25cm, you have to descend along vertical shafts before reaching the chamber. While slightly easier to get to, the Lesedi Chamber is, if anything, more difficult to work in due to the tight spaces involved." Hawks points out that while the Lesedi Chamber is "easier" to get into than the Dinaledi Chamber, the term is relative. "I have never been inside either of the chambers, and never will be. In fact, I watched Lee Berger being stuck for almost an hour, trying to get out of the narrow underground squeeze of the Lesedi Chamber." Berger eventually had to be extracted using ropes tied to his wrists. The presence of a second chamber, distant from the first, containing multiple individuals of Homo naledi and almost as difficult to reach as the Dinaledi Chamber, gives an idea of the extraordinary effort it took for Homo naledi to reach these hard-to-get-to places, says Hilbert-Wolf. "This likely adds weight to the hypothesis that Homo naledi was using dark, remote places to cache its dead," says Hawks. "What are the odds of a second, almost identical occurrence happening by chance?" So far, the scientists have uncovered more than 130 hominin specimens from the Lesedi Chamber. The bones belong to at least three individuals, but Elliot believes that there are more fossils yet to be discovered. Among the individuals are the skeletal remains of two adults and at least one child. The child is represented by bones of the head and body and would likely have been under five years of age. Of the two adults, one is represented by only a jaw and leg elements, but the other is represented by a partial skeleton, including a mostly complete skull. The team describes the skull of the skeleton as "spectacularly complete". "We finally get a look at the face of Homo naledi," says Peter Schmid of Wits and the University of Zurich, who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly reconstructing the fragile bones to complete the reconstruction. The skeleton was nicknamed "Neo" by the team, chosen for the Sesotho word meaning "a gift". "The skeleton of Neo is one the most complete ever discovered, and technically even more complete than the famous Lucy fossil, given the preservation of the skull and mandible," says Berger. The specimens from the Lesedi Chamber are nearly identical in every way to those from the Dinaledi Chamber, a remarkable finding in and of itself. "There is no doubt that they belong to the same species," says Hawks. The Lesedi Chamber fossils have not been dated yet, as dating would require destruction of some of the hominin material. "Once described, we will look at the way forward for establishing the age of these particular fossils," says Dirks. Elliot adds, however, that as the preservation and condition of the finds are practically identical to that of the naledi specimens from the Dinaledi Chamber the team hypothesizes that their age will fall roughly within the same time period. Berger believes that with thousands of fossils likely remaining in both the Lesedi and Dinaledi Chambers, there are decades of research potential. "We are going to treat ongoing extraction of material from both of these chambers with extreme care and thoughtfulness and with the full knowledge that we need to conserve material for future generations of scientists, and future technological innovations," he says. 52 scientists from 35 departments and Institutions were involved in the research. Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib said: "The search for human origins on the continent of Africa began at Wits and it is wonderful to see this legacy continue with such important discoveries" "The National Geographic Society has a long history of investing in bold people and transformative ideas," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, a funder of the expeditions that recovered the fossils and established their age. "The continued discoveries from Lee Berger and his colleagues showcase why it is critical to support the study of our human origins and other pressing scientific questions." The original fossils of these new discoveries, as well as those from the original Rising Star Expedition will be put on public display at the Maropeng, the Official Visitors Centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site from May 25th. This exhibit of the largest display of original fossil hominin material in history forms part of an exhibition called "Almost Human". The exhibition will be housed in 'The Gallery'. This state-of-the-art exhibition space was built as part of the Gauteng Infrastructure Upgrade Project. This is the second completed construction, the first being the upgrade to the Hominin House facilities at Maropeng. Maropeng is getting ready to receive thousands of visitors wanting to the see the exhibition and the new fossils. In 2015, when Homo naledi was first put on display, some 3 500 visitors per day made their way to Maropeng. "It was an extraordinary thing to experience," says Michael Worsnip, Managing Director of Maropeng. "It was something like a pilgrimage - a wonderful celebration of our heritage as a country, a continent and a planet."


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: scienceblogs.com

You’ve heard of Homo naledi, the strange “human ancestor” (really, a cousin) found a while back in South Africa. There were many skeletal remains in a cave, in the kind of shape you’d expect if they had crawled into the cave and died there, not much disturbed. They look enough like other members of our genus, Homo, to be called Homo, but if we assume that increase in brain size is the hallmark of our species, they seem to be an early grade. Over the last ten years, we have come to appreciate the fact that our genus may have differentiated into multiple species that did not have a large brain after all, and Homo naledi is one of the reasons we think that. And, just as the “Hobbit” of Indonesia (flores) has recently been re-dated to be a bit older than people thought, Homo naledi is now dated to be a bit later than people may have thought. For me, this is an “I told you so” moment. First, I understand, as do most of my colleagues (but not all), that a regular change over time in a trait in one lineage does not magically cause a parallel change in another lineage (though the co-evolution of a single trait in a similar direction along parallel lineages is certainly possible.) So, there was no reason to require that all later period hominins be like all other later period hominins in those later-emerging traits. Also, since no one has ever adequately explained what the heck our big brains are for, I don’t subscribe to the presumption that all evolution will always evolve the big brain just because our own big brains insist that they are really cool. So, a late small brained hominin in our genus but existing long after the split with us is actually somewhat expected. Then, there is my sense of age based on the things I’ve seen in the area’s caves. Some time ago, Lee Berger took me around some of the cave he had poking around in (long before this hominin was discovered) and showed me several animals that had crawled into the caves, probably looking for water during an arid period (this is already a fairly dry area). They had died in place and become mummified. In other caves, I’ve seen similar things, like a troop of baboons that somehow got into a cave with no known entrance and died, as well as bats that died in situ and mummified against the rock they died on. On another occasion, Ron Clarke, another anthropologist working in the area, showed me the famous “Little Foot” which is a fossil that represents that mummy-to-stone transition, while mostly sitting on the surface of the floor(ish) of a very deep and inaccessible cave. Meanwhile, I’d been working with my friend and colleague Francis Thackeray, and he demonstrated to me how many of the diverse bits and pieces we find of australopithecines are actually probably part of individual skeletons, but discovered and excavated at very different times. These are creatures that got in the cave somehow, and were only somewhat disarticulated after death. The whole “crawled into the cave” mode of entering the fossil record, and its presumed variant, “fell to one’s death in the cave” is different from the previously presumed process of “leopard kills you, drags you onto a tree branch hanging over a cave entrance and your bones fall into the cave” means of becoming a fossil. It is of course possible, even likely, that both of these processes occurred at various times and places. Homo naledi, according to Lee Berger, may represent a third way of getting into one of these famous caves. He suggests that the hominins themselves dragged the dead bodies of each other into the caves, as a form of treatment of the dead. That is a spectacularly controversial claim, of course, since with a small brain how can you have a god, and without a god, how can you have ritual or burial? Of course, elephants treat their dead specially sometimes, and their brain is right where it is supposed to be on the famous mouse-to-elephant curve of brain size. And, I’d bet a dozen donuts that even though Homo naledi has a small brain compared to, say, yours or mine, it is probably a good measure above that comparative curve. It was a primate, after all. But I digress in several directions, lets get to the point. The site of Rising Star Cave, South Africa, where Homo naledi was discovered, is now dated. These things are always subject to revision and updating, but for now, it seems like we have a pretty good estimate of the age of this incredible site. The site dates to some time between about 414,000 years ago and 236,000 years ago. That means that the site overlaps with the approximate age of the earliest, probably, modern humans. Here are the details from the abstract of the paper, published this morning: New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity (sub-unit 3b), interpreted to be deposited between 236 ka and 414 ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H. naledi teeth with combined U-series and electron spin resonance (US-ESR) dating. Two dating scenarios for the fossils were tested by varying the assumed levels of 222Rn loss in the encasing sediments: a maximum age scenario provides an average age for the two least altered fossil teeth of 253 +82/–70 ka, whilst a minimum age scenario yields an average age of 200 +70/–61 ka. We consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore, the true age of the fossils. By combining the US-ESR maximum age estimate obtained from the teeth, with the U-Th age for the oldest flowstone overlying Homo naledi fossils, we have constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between 236 ka and 335 ka. These age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology. In addition to this date, it is reported that there are more fossil remains, from another cave called Lesedi Chamber. Here is the paper for that, which reports “… Further exploration led to the discovery of hominin material, now comprising 131 hominin specimens, within a second chamber, the Lesedi Chamber. The Lesedi Chamber is far separated from the Dinaledi Chamber within the Rising Star cave system, and represents a second depositional context for hominin remains. In each of three collection areas within the Lesedi Chamber, diagnostic skeletal material allows a clear attribution to H. naledi. Both adult and immature material is present. The hominin remains represent at least three individuals based upon duplication of elements, but more individuals are likely present based upon the spatial context. The most significant specimen is the near-complete cranium of a large individual, designated LES1, with an endocranial volume of approximately 610 ml and associated postcranial remains. The Lesedi Chamber skeletal sample extends our knowledge of the morphology and variation of H. naledi, and evidence of H. naledi from both recovery localities shows a consistent pattern of differentiation from other hominin species.” Since both articles are OpenAccess, you can see them for yourself. Kudos to the authors for publishing in an OpenAccess journal. And now, back to my original digression. One gets a sense of how landscapes and land forms develop, and while this can be misleading, it is not entirely absurd to postulate rough comparative ages for things you can see based on other things you’ve seen. I had assumed from the way they were described originally that the Rising Star hominins would not be millions of years old. Even though Bigfoot (found by Clarke) was millions of years old and essentially on the surface (of a deeply buried unfilled chamber) I guessed that over a million-year time scale, the Rising Star material would either become diagenetically inviable as fossils or buried in sediment, or both. But over hundreds of thousands of years? That was plausible to me. In fact, I figured the remains to possibly have been even younger, and if a date half the age as suggested was calculated, I would not have been surprised. The evolution of our thinking about human evolution went through a period when we threw out all of our old conceptions about a gradual ape to human process, replacing that with a linear evolutionary pattern with things happening in what was then a surprising order, with many human traits emerging one at a time long before brains got big. There was some diversity observed then, but the next phase of our thinking involved understanding a dramatic diverstiy of pre Homo (the genus) life forms followed by the essential erasure of variation with the rise of Homo erectus and the like. Over the last decade and a half, we are now realizing that while the later members of our genus probably did cause, or at least, were associated with, a general decrease in that early diversity, later diversity arose anyway, and there were more different kinds of hominids, very different in some cases, late into our history. Word on the street is that we can expect to learn about even more diversity in coming years. _______________________________________________________________________ Paul HGM Dirks, Eric M Roberts, Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, Jan D Kramers, John Hawks, Anthony Dosseto, Mathieu Duval, Marina Elliott, Mary Evans, Rainer Grün, John Hellstrom, Andy IR Herries, Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Tebogo V Makhubela, Christa J Placzek, Jessie Robbins, Carl Spandler, Jelle Wiersma, Jon Woodhead, Lee R Berger. 2017. The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa. May 2017. eLife. Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind: Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai & Environs World Heritage Site From Apes to Angels: Essays in Anthropology in Honor of Phillip V. Tobias


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

The Homo naledi hominin species, first described in 2015, has been found to have coexisted in sub-equatorial Africa with other hominin species and was likely present in the same general region as the Homo sapiens species – the direct ancestors of modern humans – scientists revealed on Tuesday. A new and remarkably complete fossil of Homo naledi, called Neo – gift in seSotho – was on Tuesday unveiled, along with the age of the Homo naledi fossils – between 335 000 and 236 000 years old – discovered in the Dinaledi chamber of the Rising Star cave system, in the Cradle of Humankind, in Gauteng, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger said. The significance of the age of these Homo naledi fossils, which are a so-called “deep-time” species of hominins – meaning they share many morphological traits with early hominin species including teeth, such as large molars, and femur structure similar to the Homo erectus, Homo habilis and Australopithecine species – is that it can be postulated that the species survived until relatively recently in the Cradle of Humankind and provides evidence of the coexistence of hominin species in Africa. Professor John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained the Omo Kibish remains from Ethiopia – identified as the earliest fossil evidence of anatomically modern humans – are dated at 190 000 years old. “[Anatomically] modern humans were here in the sub-equatorial regions of Africa at the same time as Homo naledi, meaning that our relative and distant relative species were here throughout the 2-million to 1.5-million years of our evolution. We must also rethink the diversity of other hominids that existed with each other through our evolution.” “The Neo fossil is one of the best represented and best dated fossils in the hominin record and we have to ask serious questions about which hominin species are responsible for the archaeological sites in this area and how the hominin populations’ interactions [played a] role in our own origins.” The discovery of the Neo fossil in the Lesedi – or light – chamber of the Rising Star cave system is significant because it represents the best understood sample of hominins outside of Neanderthals and modern humans, says Hawks. Except for a lower leg and the feet that are missing, the Neo fossil is extraordinarily complete and well preserved and includes one of the most complete crania ever, with the delicate nasal bones, inner eye orbit bones and the tear ducts preserved. “It is a remarkable view of the past and the realisation that the species was here and we are looking at the face of a hominin relative that our direct ancestors lived alongside,” he enthuses. Parts of a juvenile’s mandible with a developing tooth embedded inside and a partial skeleton of a second adult were discovered in the Lesedi chamber, which yielded 131 hominin remains. The Rising Star cave system represents an extraordinary cache of hominin fossils – 1 500 individual fossil remains – representing 15 individuals. The remains included fossils ranging from foetal to adult stages of development, with potentially thousands of other individual remains still to be discovered in the chamber, said Berger. Berger emphasised that the discovery was the result of work by a large team of scientists – 150 from across the world – while three studies published on Tuesday were the work of 53 scientists across three teams. James Cook University and Wits geologist Professor Paul Dirks and his team used six different methods, confirmed independently by laboratories around the world, to accurately determine the age of the fossils and sediments. He detailed the techniques used, including electron spin resonance (ESR), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), paleo and geochronology methods, which involved determining the age of rocks, sediments and flowstones above, below and associated with the fossils using a range of geological and radiological methods, and uranium-thorium dating methods, to date fossil deposition. Three teeth discovered in the Dinaledi chamber that had not been subjected to any scientific testing, which could affect the accuracy of the radiation dating ESR method used, were used to determine the direct age of the fossils. “The range of methods and the rigour we applied to determine the age of the Dinaledi chamber and associated fossils gives us great confidence that the age attributed to the fossils is correct and is between 236 000 years and 335 000 years before present,” he said. Berger highlighted that the team of scientists was confident of making further discoveries and praised the explorers, research scientists analysing the fossil remains and the scientists working underground, including Dr Marina Elliott, one of the “underground astronauts” who excavated the fossils in Dinaledi – the chamber of the Stars – and in the Lesedi chamber. The Homo naledi fossils from the Lesedi and Dinaledi chambers will be on display in the Cradle of Humankind Maropeng centre from May 25.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

A new haul of ancient human remains has been described from an important cave site in South Africa. The finds, including a well-preserved skull, bolster the idea that the Homo naledi people deliberately deposited their dead in the cave. Evidence of such complex behaviour is surprising for a human species with a brain that's a third the size of ours. Despite showing some primitive traits it lived relatively recently, perhaps as little as 235,000 years ago. That would mean the naledi people could have overlapped with the earliest of our kind - Homo sapiens. In a slew of papers published in the journal eLife, Prof Lee Berger from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Prof John Hawks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, and their collaborators have outlined details of the new specimens and, importantly, ages for the remains. The H. naledi story starts in 2013, when the remains of almost 15 individuals of various ages were discovered inside the Dinaledi chamber - part of South Africa's Rising Star Cave system. At the same time, the researchers were exploring a second chamber about 100m away, known as Lesedi ("light" in the Setswana language which is spoken in the region). The finds from Dinaledi were published in 2015, but remains from the Lesedi chamber had not previously been presented, until now. The latest specimens include the remains of at least three individuals - two adults and a child. One of the adults has a "wonderfully complete skull", according to Prof Hawks. This tough-looking specimen is probably male, and has been named "Neo", which means "a gift" in the Sesotho language of southern Africa. Examination of its limb bones shows that it was equally comfortable climbing and walking. The fact that Homo naledi was alive at the same time and in the same region of Africa as early representatives of Homo sapiens gives us an insight into the huge diversity of different human forms in existence during the Pleistocene. "Here in southern Africa, in this time range, you have the Florisbad skull, which may be an ancestor or close relative of modern humans; you've got the Kabwe skull, which is some kind of archaic human and possibly quite divergent; you've got evidence from modern people's genomes that archaic lineages have been contributing to modern populations and may have existed until quite recently," said Prof Hawks. "You have this very primitive form of Homo [naledi] that has survived alongside these other species for a million years or more. It is amazing the diversity that we are now seeing that we had missed before." As to how H. naledi held on to its distinctive characteristics while living cheek-by-jowl with other human species, Prof Hawks said: "It's hard to say it was geographic isolation because there's no boundary - no barrier. It's the same landscape from here to Tanzania; we're in one continuous savannah, woodland-type habitat. He added that the human-sized teeth probably reflected a diet like that of modern humans. In addition, H. naledi had limb proportions just like ours and there is no apparent reason why it could not have used stone tools. "It doesn't look like they're in a different ecological niche. That's weird; it's a problem. This is not a situation where we can point to them and say: 'They co-existed because they're using resources differently'," Prof Hawks told BBC News. The researchers say that finding the remains of multiple individuals in a separate chamber bolsters the idea that Homo naledi was caching its dead. If correct, this surprising - and controversial claim - hints at an intelligent mind and, perhaps, the stirrings of culture. By dating the site, researchers have sought to clear up some of the puzzles surrounding the remains. In 2015, Prof Berger told BBC News that the remains could be up to three million years old based on their primitive characteristics. Yet the bones are only lightly mineralised, which raised the possibility that they might not be very ancient (although this is not always an accurate guide). In order to arrive at an age, the team dated the bones themselves, sediments on the cave floor and flowstones - carbonate minerals formed when water runs down the wall or along the floor of a cave. Several techniques were used: optically stimulated luminescence to date the cave sediments, uranium-thorium dating and palaeomagnetic analyses for the flowstones and combined U-series and electron spin resonance (US-ESR) for dating three naledi teeth. By combining results together, they were able to constrain the age of the Homo naledi remains to between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago. "We've got a geological bracket based on flowstones overlying the fossils and we've had direct dates on the teeth themselves," said John Hawks. The team sent samples to two separate labs to perform their analyses "blind". This meant that neither lab knew what the other was doing, or what their analytical approaches were. Despite this, they returned the same results. "This is now the best dated site in southern Africa - we threw everything at it," said John Hawks. Commenting on the dates, Prof Chris Stringer, of London's Natural History Museum, said: "This is astonishingly young for a species that still displays primitive characteristics found in fossils about two million years old." Apart from one well known exception (the Indonesian "Hobbit"), Prof Stringer explained, "the discovery and dating also question the usual assumption that... selection universally drove the evolution of a larger brain in humans during the last million years." Many mysteries remain about this intriguing member of the human family tree. Not least of them is H. naledi's evolutionary history up until the point the remains show up in the Rising Star cave system. Researchers currently envisage two possibilities. The first is that H. naledi represents one of these earliest branches of Homo - perhaps something like Homo habilis. It retains a rather primitive anatomy while evolving in parallel with the branch of the human family tree that eventually results in modern humans. The other possibility is that it diverged more than a million years ago from a more advanced form of Homo - perhaps Homo erectus - and then reverted to a more primitive form in some aspects of its skull and teeth. Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

GREENWICH, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hunt Scanlon Media has released its annual rankings of leading executive search firms in the Americas region. According to the market research company, the senior-level recruiting industry grew by 10 percent last year, generating $3.1 billion in revenue among the 50 ranked firms. “More than a third of the search firms we tracked grew by double digits,” said Hunt Scanlon’s chief executive Scott A. Scanlon. By most measures it was an exceptional year of growth and expansion for C-Suite recruiters, said Hunt Scanlon. U.S. recruitment providers are reporting high growth in business coming from accessory talent offerings, including leadership consulting, assessments, executive coaching and onboarding. “There’s been a substantial broadening of services this past year,” said Mr. Scanlon. “It is a transitional period that we believe will drive massive expansion in the sector in the coming years.” That expansion, reports Hunt Scanlon, will cost money. To assist search firms raise investment capital, Hunt Scanlon is convening 125 executive recruiters from 85 leading search firms across five countries to New York on May 16 to discuss valuation metrics and funding strategies. “Smart investors are looking for opportunities in this space,” said Mr. Scanlon. “Hunt Scanlon will provide the platform at our worldwide event to start that discussion in earnest.” Event sponsors include Catapult Growth Partners, Diversified Search, and Hunt Club. Speakers represent leading businesses in the space, including William Blair & Co. and ZRG Partners, designated as this year’s fastest growing executive search firm. To attend the event click here. To see the Hunt Scanlon Media rankings click here. Hunt Scanlon Media has been defining and informing the senior talent management sector for nearly 30 years. Our global staffing intelligence data comes in many forms: daily newswires, annual leadership and state of the industry reports, market intelligence sector briefings, and in our flagship newsletter ESR. Our exclusive news briefings, interviews, industry trends reports and rankings, forecasts and expert commentary offer unique insight and market intelligence as we track global talent management developments. Since our inception, talent management professionals worldwide have turned to Hunt Scanlon Media — making us the most widely referenced, single source for information in the human capital sector.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Back in 2013, scientists discovered the remains of an ancient human relative on an expedition to the Rising Star Cave in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. This new species was named Homo naledi, but researchers were unable to determine the period to which these human-like creatures belonged. Since the samples were so ancient, DNA recovery turned out to be impossible and researchers relied on different means to ascertain how old the Homo naledi bones were. They tried dating the sediments in which the bones were discovered and this finally presented them with an estimate. However, scientists were shocked when testing revealed that the recovered Homo naledi bones were just 236,000 to 335,000 years old. This indicates that the Homo naledi lived alongside the earliest Homo sapiens, or modern humans, in Africa. If what researchers claim is true, then the Homo naledi would join Neanderthals, Homo floresiensis, and Denisovans to become the fourth known hominin to have existed alongside modern-day humans. A new chamber aside from the one discovered previously has also been unearthed. Scientists claim that within this chamber they have discovered the remains of at least three new Homo naledi specimens, including younger and adult subjects. It was also revealed that one of the uncovered skulls was brilliantly preserved. This second discovery, which was located very near to the first, suggested that members of the Homo naledi species were storing their dead in the particular location. Scientists believe that this is a sign of a highly evolved intelligence similar to the Homo sapiens. "This likely adds weight to the hypothesis that Homo naledi was using dark, remote places to cache its dead. What are the odds of a second, almost identical occurrence happening by chance?" John Hawks, study associate and professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, remarked. Researchers could not rely on DNA to tell them the dates of the discovered remains as they were far too old for gene dating. So, instead, scientists came up with the idea of dating the sediments inside which the remains were found buried. The researchers employed a method known as Uranium-Thorium dating. They tested the flowstones in the sediments to determine how it related to the overall geological timescale of the region. Uranium series or U-series dating was performed on the teeth of the specimen. However, it was the final electron spin resonance dating or ESR, which revealed the exact age of the bones. "Of course we were surprised at the young age, but as we realised that all the geological formations in the chamber were young, the U-series and ESR results were perhaps less of a surprise in the end," Professor Eric Roberts from James Cook University and Wits shared. Professor Hawk stated that the most interesting thing about the Homo naledi was that even though its brain size was around a third of the Homo sapiens, the characteristics and cultural aspects the species followed resemble those of modern humans. Three papers have been published regarding the discoveries in the journal eLife. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

In 2015 researchers caused a sensation when they unveiled more than 1,500 human fossils representing some 15 individuals, male and female, young and old, discovered in South Africa. It was an almost unimaginable bonanza, one of the richest assemblages of human fossils ever found, recovered from a chamber deep inside an underground cave system near Johannesburg called Rising Star. From it, the team was able to deduce the bones belonged to a new species, Homo naledi, which had a curious mix of primitive traits, such as a tiny brain, and modern features, including long legs. They determined it was a capable climber, a long-distance walker, a probable toolmaker. And they suggested this peculiar cousin of ours might have taken great pains to dispose of its dead in the pitch-dark, hard to reach recesses of Rising Star. Yet for all that the team was able to glean from the bones, the discovery is perhaps best known for what the researchers could not ascertain: its age. The creature’s primitive characteristics suggested it was old, perhaps hailing from a time close to when our genus, Homo, originated, more than two million years ago. But its modern traits, along with the condition of the bones, which seemed to be only barely fossilized, hinted that H. naledi lived more recently. Depending on the age, the bones would have different implications for understanding how Homo evolved. Now that long-awaited piece of the puzzle has finally fallen into place. In a paper published today in eLife, the team reports it has dated the remains of H. naledi. And their age, it turns out, is decidedly young. The researchers also announced the discovery of yet more fossils of H. naledi in a second chamber in Rising Star. The findings raise intriguing questions about the origin and evolution of Homo. Researchers led by Paul H.G.M. Dirks of James Cook University in Australia determined the age of the original remains using a combination of techniques. Importantly, they were able to date the H. naledi fossils themselves, as opposed to just associated materials, subjecting three teeth to electron spin resonance (ESR) dating, which looks at the electrons trapped in tooth enamel, and uranium–thorium dating, which measures the radioactive decay of uranium. Those results, along with dates obtained for the surrounding rock and sediments, indicate the bones from the Dinaledi Chamber that yielded the original fossil haul are between 236,000 and 335,000 years old. The team had several labs independently date the same samples without knowing one another’s results to help ensure accuracy. In a second paper, also published in eLife, John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Marina Elliott of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and their colleagues describe 131 new H. naledi specimens representing at least three individuals from another part of the cave system, the Lesedi Chamber, located about 100 meters from the Dinaledi Chamber. Most of the bones belong to an adult male, nicknamed Neo, which means “gift” in the local Sesotho language. With the better part of a skull as well as bones from most other regions of the body preserved, Neo is one of the most complete fossil human skeletons on record. And he exhibits the same distinctive traits seen in the much more fragmentary Dinaledi remains, although his skull housed a brain with a volume of around 610 cubic centimeters—9 percent larger than the brain size estimates for the previously discovered Dinaledi fossils but still much smaller than the average modern human brain size of around 1,400 cubic centimeters. The researchers have yet to date the new fossils. They note, however, that the strong similarities between the Dinaledi and Lesedi specimens suggest they represent individuals from the same population. Armed with these new findings, Hawks, project leader Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand and their collaborators are raising their bets on controversial claims they made on the basis of the first set of H. naledi fossils. Despite the young age of the bones from the Dinaledi Chamber, the scientists maintain H. naledi’s primitive features link it to much earlier members of the human family. H. naledi may have emerged at around the same time as H. erectus and other early Homo species, they say, or even given rise to H. erectus or H. sapiens. In these scenarios the Rising Star fossils would simply represent a more recent chapter of the long history of H. naledi. If the researchers are right, southern Africa may have played a more prominent role in the evolution of the lineage leading to us than most experts have envisioned. Received paleoanthropological wisdom holds that east Africa was the hub of human evolution and southern Africa was on the sidelines. But Berger has long pushed the idea that southern Africa might have played a more central role in the forging of Homo. In this latest effort to advance that notion he and his co-authors marshal evidence from other animals to make the case that subequatorial Africa was the center of the evolutionary action. In addition to shaking up the family tree and the biogeography of human evolution, Berger and his team are taking on enduring ideas about the behavior and cognitive abilities of seemingly primitive human species. They contend the discovery of more bones in another difficult to access part of the cave system supports their hypothesis that H. naledi deliberately placed its dead in these locales. Such mortuary behavior was thought to be exclusive to large-brained H. sapiens. The researchers also note the new dates for H. naledi indicate it lived at a time when human ancestors were making sophisticated stone tools in the Middle Stone Age tradition. Many of the sites where archaeologists have discovered these tools do not contain any human fossils. Experts have typically assumed that large-brained humans made the implements. But if H. naledi was around at that time, Berger and his co-authors suggest, it cannot be excluded as a toolmaker. To date, the team has not recovered any stone tools in association with H. naledi, however. Experts not involved in the new work say the discoveries are exciting, but expressed some doubts about the team’s interpretations such as the suggestion southern Africa was the hotbed of evolutionary diversification for many mammals, including humans. “Mammalian species diversity is today higher in east Africa than it is in southern Africa,” says paleoecologist J. Tyler Faith of the University of Queensland in Australia. “And much of the evidence that they discuss—particularly points concerning the geographic and genetic history…of African mammals—is usually interpreted as indicating that east Africa is a cradle for diversity and evolutionary innovation whereas southern Africa is analogous to a museum that conserves that diversity through time—not the other way around.” Faith also does not buy the argument H. naledi could have given rise to H. sapiens. “If the dates are correct, then H. naledi is a classic example of an evolutionary dead end,” he asserts, noting the similarities to the miniature human “hobbit” species Homo floresiensis that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores until around 50,000 years ago. “[H. naledi] couldn’t possibly have given rise to living human populations today.” Nor is it clear the new fossils from the Lesedi Chamber necessarily support the case for mortuary behavior in H. naledi. When Berger’s team formulated that scenario, they based it in part on the fact the Dinaledi Chamber contains only a smattering of tiny animal bones. If the humans had instead fallen into the cave, for example, one would expect to find bones of many more kinds of animals that met a similar fate, including larger ones. Paleoanthropologist Mark Collard of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia observes that the Lesedi chamber contains more fossils of other animals, including some of medium size, which could suggest that H. naledi ended up in there by some means other than intentional disposal. The team’s suggestion that H. naledi might have made Middle Stone Age tools found in the region has likewise elicited skepticism. Archaeologist Curtis Marean of Arizona State University says the hypothesis is reasonable, but not strong. “If this [species] was a stone tool maker, then it seems almost impossible to me that no stone tools made it into the caves with them,” he comments. Collard, for his part, gives more credence to the idea. “We’ve had a simplistic understanding of how the archaeological record relates to fossils,” he remarks. “We need to think about the possibility that naledi was involved in the production of one or more of these cultures.” Collard notes that both Neandertals and early H. sapiens made the same kinds of so-called Middle Paleolithic tools in the Near East. Maybe multiple species, including small-brained H. naledi, made Middle Stone Age tools, too. In that case, scientists will need to reconsider the longstanding notion that brain size drives complexity of behavior. Collard thinks there is good reason to do so: “The history of paleoanthropology is littered with deeply rooted assumptions that have been overturned by new discoveries."

Loading ESR collaborators
Loading ESR collaborators