Wednesday 13 November 2013

Rising Star Expedition

By Steven Tucker 13 November 2013

Today, two months ago - on Friday the 13th of September, Rick Hunter and I (members of the Speleological Exploration Club) explored a remote section of the Rising Star cave system. Before we entered the cave, Rick Hunter had the following status update: "I have a good feeling this Friday the 13th. Time for fun and adventure. And of course hopefully new discoveries. All cameras are charged and lights are ready. Hammers, chisels, gloves, boots and overalls. This is a deep underground rock session." His prediction proved accurate. Whilst we had gone in search of an extension to the cave, what we did find was much more significant, hominid fossils!

From left to right: André Doussy, Gerrie Pretorius, Lee Berger, Allen Herwig, Steven Tucker and Irene Kruger
On the 24th of September we went back armed with a camera and took the first photos of the find.

On the 1st of October we showed the photos to Pedro Boshoff and then to Lee R. Berger.

On 5 October we took Lee Berger, Matthew Berger and Pedro Boshoff to the site, but Matthew was the only one who could reach the fossils. Cavers that day included Dave Ingold, John Dickie, Selena Dickie, Bruce Maximillian Dickie, Gerrie Pretorius and Pete Kenyon.

On 6 October Lee Berger sent out a message that he was looking for small individuals with caving experience and excellent archeological/paleontological and excavation skills. This call was answered by many and the final selection was Alia Gurtov, Becca Peixotto, Elen Feuerriegel, Hannah Morris, K Lindsay Eaves and Marina Elliot.

On 11 October the first draft plan for the Rising Star Expedition was discussed and sent out to others.

On 6 November the news was made official to the world through National Geographic and then others.

From 6 to 9 November a base camp was setup at the site.

From 7 to 10 November cavers Rick Hunter, Gerrie Pretorius, André Doussy, Allen Herweg, John Dickie, Matthew James Dickie, Selena Dickie, Sharron Reynolds, Leon De Kock, Pete Kenyon, Irene Krüger, Dave Ingold and myself installed safety ropes throughout the cave as well as over two kilometers of cabling, 8 cameras and phones so that every part of the excavation can be recorded.

On 10 November the first group of scientist/cavers enter the fossil chamber. 3D scans are done and towards the end of the day the first fossil sees the light of day - a mandible.

On 11 November another caver, Lindin Mazilis joins the expedition and the scientists/cavers excavate bags full of fossils which are taken out of the cave with the help of Zoë Rosen. This days excavation confirms multiple individuals at the site.

On 12 November more fossils are removed and work starts on excavating a cranium.

Thanks to everyone involved in this project, it has been a ride of a lifetime!

Today we rest...

Rising Star

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating and extreemly courageous the entry to Dinaledi Chamber. I imaging it hard eneough to get in to the Dinaledi Chamber but at least assisted by gravity, BUT, how on earth did you get back up a 12 metre long 20 cm wide chimney ???

    Richard Grocott