Friday 6 December 2013

Rising Star Expedition Finds over 1,000 Hominid Fossils

By Dave Ingold 6 December 2013

A three-week expedition was mounted this past November after cavers from the South Africa's Speleological Exploration Club stumbled upon hominid fossils.

Cavers Steve Tucker and Rick Hunter had been exploring a remote section of Rising Star Cave in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site on Friday, September 13th 2013, when they made the exciting discovery.

Less than two months later, in early November, a base camp had been erected and excavation of the remains had begun.

As the bones were located in a difficult to access area, past a tight 18 cm (7 inch) squeeze, a crack team of small, mostly female, cavers with special archaeological/paleontological and excavation skills were brought in to help.

On the very first day of entering the fossil chamber the team recovered a hominid fossil in remarkably good condition.

Three weeks later, they had recovered over 1,200 specimens.

"We don't have anywhere near [all of the fossils]. We haven't scratched the surface. This excavation will go on for decades." - Lee Berger, Professor

The entire expedition was followed by a National Geographic which covered the events as they unfolded.

See more videos and read all the Rising Star Expedition posts on National Geographic.

It is expected that a scientific paper on the find would be prepared for publication in late 2014.

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