The researchers believe that “that would mean not only that humans are not unique in developing symbolic practices, but that they may not have even invented such behaviors.”
A team of paleontologists has claimed to have found the world’s oldest known burial site in South Africa, containing the remains of a small-brained distant relative of humans thought to be incapable of complex behavior.
The researchers, led by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, discovered several specimens of Homo naledi, a Stone Age tree-climbing hominid, buried some 30 meters underground in a cave system. “These are the oldest burials recorded so far in the hominid record, predating evidence for Homo sapiens burials by at least 100,000 years,” according to a study published Monday.
AFP details that the findings date back to approximately the year 200,000 BC. c.
The scientists indicate that “the discoveries demonstrate that mortuary practices were not limited to ‘Homo sapiens’ or other hominids with large brains.”
According to Berger, “that would mean not only that humans are not unique in developing symbolic practices, but that they may not have even invented such behaviors.”
For her part, Carol Ward, an anthropologist at the University of Missouri (USA) who was not involved in the research, said that “these findings, if confirmed, would have considerable potential importance.”