Tree-climbing human ancestor could also move efficiently on ground

Scientists are saying that human ancestor Homo naledi was good both at moving on the ground and climbing trees. They have found that the feet of this creature had features found in those of walkers while its hands carried curved fingers for grasping and holding onto branches. However, the hands of Homo naledi also demonstrate significant modernity; they possess features that are present in Homo species of later eras, for instance, the modern humans and their extinct cousins, the Neanderthals.

The structural designs of our muscles and bones allow us to take part in a series of extremely fine manipulative tasks. For instance, we can pinch our little finger and thumb together, forcefully; the short thumbed apes find performing such jobs much harder than we do. This ability makes us efficient users of tools. Kent University, UK’s researcher Tracy Kivell said that the architecture of the hands of Homo naledi indicates that it also possessed some of those abilities.


Kivell informed, particularly that the features observed in the wrist of Homo naledi have only been found in modern humans and Neanderthals, and it’s a known fact that both are good at using tools. She added that these ancient creatures used to make sophisticated tools and use them frequently enough to undergo a change in their morphology.

According to her, naledi was probably using tools made of different materials or performing some other forceful and precision-grip manipulative jobs. However, she feels that the best possible straight-forward explanation would be: naledi used to make and use tools. Here, it must be mentioned that archaeologists didn’t find any tool when unearthing hominin’s remains at the Rising Star Cave. As a result, at this moment, it’s not possible to make any direct association. The Rising Star Cave is located at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa.


The fact that not a single tool was discovered at the site where remains of Homo naledi were found gives birth to a valid question: is it possible for a creature that used to live two million years back and possessed a brain as big as that of modern-day chimpanzees to have the cognitive capacity of being an efficient tool user?

We might see this puzzle solved in the future as so far archaeologists have excavated only a small part of the cave, and the remaining part is expected to throw up more facts about naledi.