Fire and Homo naledi

Well, here we are! Today is the big day when we will learn quite a few new details about the enigmatic Homo naledi. Found deep in the African cave system dubbed “Rising Star,”; mysterious bones and remains were found. This was back in 2013, and a great deal has happened since; as I am writing this, I am awaiting Dr. Lee Berger, the lead on the naledi team, to announce new findings and the future of the exploration of the human past. I will cover all the details as they come out today and publish this article ASAP. There are so many things that could be announced today, I have a few ideas we can discuss later after the announcements have been made, but it’s fun to guess! 

Watch the announcement here:

Homo naledi is a unique species with a mosaic of features, some of which are very modern despite how primitive they were once thought to be; we are learning more and more about this species and putting the puzzle together of who these people were. This species has many mysteries, from probable burial to who knows what else. But we will find out more tonight! 

What is going to be announced tonight? Are we going to learn about the use of fire? Or tools? What could it be? Read on to find out! 

After losing 55lbs, Dr. Lee Berger himself made it into the Dinaledi chamber, and after sitting down in a corner and looking up he saw that the roof was not pure calcium carbonate. There was a level of burned, blackened soot. Homo naledi did not make it into these deep, dark chambers in this cave in the dark. They had light. They had fire. 

On his way out of the Dinaledi chamber, at the space called the Dragon Back, a hearth was discovered, a small one with some burned animal bones, and then next to it, a more significant hearth was found with burned and blackened animal bones. The team realized they were dealing with something on an entirely new level. This prompted them to look in the other spaces they had been in previously to look for signs of the use of fire or different ways that naledi would have navigated the tunnels. 

Going back into the Lasedi chamber where the skeleton of Neo was found, where no signs of Homo sapiens have ever been found, in the deepest parts of the cave, they found burned rocks, with ashes at the bottom, and even further in, there was an abundance of burnt bone of small animals, and yet no signs of stone tools at all. 

The entire floor is covered in burnt bones, ashes, and even…charcoal. Nothing like this had ever been discovered before. Lee and his team, including many other scientists on my show, have worked together to show that these pieces of charcoal dated to the right time that H.naledi was present. “Everywhere there is a complex juncture or adjacent area, they built a fire and cooked animals.” In chambers where they disposed of the dead, they brought fire but did not cook animals”- Lee Berger. 

This small-brained hominin, which lived at the same time as us in some of the same parts of Africa, was using and developing the widespread use of fire for various reasons. So what does this show us? “We may be looking at an actual culture of a different hominin, in a way that we never have before”-Lee Berger. Homo naledi did not see in the dark; they did not navigate these unbelievable caves in pitch black, and they had a fire; this gives us insights into a whole different culture that was alive at the same time as ours; this is groundbreaking. 

If Lee never made it into that cave, we would never have seen this, “and it has changed our view of the world forever”-Agustin Fuentes. 

Catch my episode of PaleoFridays Here:


Published by sethchagi

I am a Paleoanthropology Student, so far with two degrees, in Anthropology and Human Behavioral Science, pursuing my B.A and then my PhD I love to read (like a lot) and write, I love my family, and I adore anthropology! Remember, never stop exploring and never stop learning! There is always more to learn!

2 thoughts on “Fire and Homo naledi

  1. But…still we’re not certain how Neo and his tribe got into and out of those chambers in Rising Star. Wouldn’t a genome from Naledi be helpful, LoL. The Naledi must have been interacting with other hominins, and it seems now that in many places where one species of hominins interacted with another species, that interbreeding was going on. For someone who was really interested in zoology when I was young in the 1960s, it’s so hard for me to get past the definition of “species” that I was taught in school. And I know that’s a common topic of discussion in paleoarcheaology. Thanks very much for getting us new information as it becomes available.


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