5:19 PM PST, November 7, 2021
Researchers in South Africa recently found a fossilized skull from a young Homo Naledi that is 250,000 years old.
The child, which they named Letimela because that means “the lost one,” was between four and six years old when she died. This was during the Middle Pleistocene era, which started 335 thousand years ago.
The discovery was made in a cave 30 miles away from Johannesburg, where other Homo Naledi remains have been found.
Now paleontologists say they’re trying to learn from the location of the skull because it was in a different part of the cave than where its body could have been.
“This little skull is sitting there alone,” Professor Lee Berger from the University of the Witwatersrand said. “There’s no mandible. There are no parts of her body.”
“That maybe leaves one of the greatest mysteries that this whole thing is going to say, and I don’t have answers to that. I can’t have answers to that of why a child’s skull has made its way into those deep, dark recesses because it has not been washed in there, as I’ve said, it didn’t crawl in there. The body would be there.”
The skull has researchers pondering what kind of interaction this species had with its dead. It’s an answer they may have to keep digging for.